• The federal government acts to prevent the massive eviction of renters following the July 24 expiration of the eviction protection afforded by the CARES Act
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the nationwide eviction moratorium
  • It cited the 1944 Public Health Service Act as its basis for this power

In a bold move Tuesday, the Trump administration used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to announce the federal government's four-month moratorium on residential evictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nationwide order temporarily preventing millions of renters from being evicted is based on the 1944 Public Health Service Act, which gives the federal government broad quarantine powers. The moratorium is set expire Dec. 31, giving renters security through year's end.

“President Trump is committed to helping hard-working Americans stay in their homes and combating the spread of the coronavirus,” White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said Tuesday.

The stopgap moratorium applies to individuals earning less than $99,000 a year or $198,000 for joint filers. These people must be unable to make rent or housing payments.

It also applies to renters who filed no income tax returns in 2019, or who received a stimulus check this year. The moratorium covers all 43 million U.S. residential renters.

The order extends some of the protections provided under the $2 trillion CARES Act, the first coronavirus stimulus package signed into law March 27. The move also raises the stakes on the stalemate between Republicans and Democrats on a fourth coronavirus relief package.

CARES included a 120-day federal eviction moratorium for renters participating in federal housing assistance programs, or who live in a property with a federally backed mortgage. This ban expired on July 24, allowing landlords to issue 30-day notices for tenants to vacate properties before the order.

The CDC moratorium orders renters to file sworn declarations affirming eviction would leave them homeless or force them into a "shared living setting." Renters also have to attest they've done everything they can "to get government assistance for rent or housing." The Trump administration warned renters could be "prosecuted, go to jail, or pay a fine" if they lied in their declarations.


The White House clarified the CDC order isn't an invitation to stop paying rent. It said renters should pay a portion of rent if this is possible. Renters, however, will still owe accrued rent and face penalties for failing to pay. The CDC order also said renters can "still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment."

Apartment owners weren't pleased with the announcement, saying they'll have to bear the financial pain of non-paid rents. Bob Pinnegar, president and CEO of the National Apartment Association, said his organization and its members are deeply concerned by the moratorium.

He said the lack of money for rental assistance might cause a cascade by taking away the money apartment owners need to maintain their properties or pay property taxes or mortgages. It's estimated more than $21.5 billion in past-due rent is owed by Americans.