5 Requirements for Protection under the CDC Eviction Order (FAQ & Fillable CDC Declaration)
Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)
On January 20, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) extended its order temporarily halting residential evictions until at least March 31, 2021. Read the full CDC press release. Renters can continue giving the CDC Declaration to their landlords into March, if they meet the requirements. Read below to find out more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order to put a temporary halt to some residential evictions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you qualify, your landlord cannot evict you. The eviction moratorium started on September 4, 2020 and lasts until March 31, 2021.
You have to meet 5 eligibility requirements to qualify for protection under the CDC order. Not everyone will qualify for eviction protection under the CDC’s order. If you qualify, you must send your landlord a declaration stating that you qualify. There are forms at the end of this article you can send to your landlord.
Who is protected from eviction under the CDC’s order?
A tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who is behind on the rent and meets the 5 eligibility requirements below is protected from eviction.
If you live as a temporary guest in a hotel, motel or seasonal housing, you will not be protected by the CDC’s eviction moratorium. But, if you are a long-term renter in a hotel or motel, you may be protected.
To be eligible, a tenant must meet all five of the following requirements:
1. You have used your best efforts to obtain government assistance for rent or housing.
2. You income qualify. You income qualify if:
- You expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return); or
- You were not required to report any income in 2019 to the IRS; or
- You received an economic stimulus payment during the pandemic.
3. You cannot pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of income, loss of compensable working hours, loss of wages, you were laid-off, or you had extraordinary medical expenses.
4. You are using your best efforts to make timely partial payments to the landlord that are as close to the full payment as your circumstances allow.
5. Eviction would likely make you homeless or force you to move into close quarters with others or shared living settings.
If you have questions about whether you qualify, talk to a lawyer. If you rent in Montana, call Montana Legal Services Association at 1-800-666-6899 or apply online at mtlsa.org. If you live somewhere else, you’ll want to find free legal help where you rent.
Do I have to take action to qualify for the CDC’s eviction protections?
Yes. If you meet the 5 eligibility requirements above, you must send your landlord a written declaration stating that you meet the requirements. The CDC order requires you to have specific language in your declaration. Use the form at the end of this article to send to your landlord. Keep a copy for yourself.
Each adult who is on the lease or rental agreement must sign and send a declaration to the landlord. If you have a verbal rental agreement with your landlord, each adult who lives in your rental should send a declaration to the landlord.
Where can I find the CDC declaration translated into another language?
The Alliance for Housing Justice has translated the CDC Declaration into the following languages:
- Arabic | بیان†حقائق†وقف†الإخلاء†.C.D.C
- Chinese | 美国疾病控制中心延迟驱逐租户符合条件对照表
- Creole | Sa ou dwe Konnen sou Moratoryom sou Degèpisman C.D.C a
- Spanish | Hoja informativa de la moratoria de desalojos de los Centros para el Control de Enfermedades
- Vietnamese | CDC. Thông tin về lệnh tạm thời cấm trục xuất
The National Low Income Housing Coalition has translated the CDC Declaration into the following languages:
No matter what language you use, it's best to give your landlord the CDC declaration in English. You can download the CDC declaration in English at the end of this article.
What should I do once I sign my declaration?
First, make sure you make a copy of your signed declaration. You will mail or hand deliver the original declaration to your landlord. Keep a copy for your records. If you end up going to court, you will need to show the judge the declaration you signed and sent to your landlord.
You can also send the documents by email or text message to your landlord.
Important: It’s a good idea to have proof that you gave the letter to the landlord. If you hand the letter to the landlord, have someone with you as a witness or ask the landlord to sign something acknowledging the day the letter was received. If you mail the letter, it’s a good idea to mail the letter by first-class mail with a Certificate of Mailing. The post office charges $1.50 more for the Certificate of Mailing. Keep the Certificate of Mailing receipt. That is your proof that you sent the letter. With a Certificate of Mailing, the landlord will not have to sign anything to get your letter. The landlord cannot refuse delivery.
Be sure to keep a copy of your letter and the Declaration for your own records.
If your landlord has already filed an eviction lawsuit against you, it is a good idea to also provide a copy of your Declaration to the court.
Where can I find a declaration?
You can download a fill-in-the-blank CDC declaration at the end of this article. We’ve included a cover letter with the declaration. The cover letter tells your landlord where you rent, that you qualify for protection, and not to evict you. Be sure to fill out all the blanks in the cover letter and sign the declaration.
If you don’t want to use our cover letter, you can download the CDC declaration by itself. It's okay to cross out the date January 31 in the form, and hand-write in March 31.
If I do not meet the eligibility requirements, should I still send my landlord the declaration?
No. You should not sign and send the declaration unless it is completely true for your situation. This declaration is sworn testimony, meaning that you can be prosecuted, go to jail, or pay a fine if you lie, mislead, or omit important information.
If you are not protected by the CDC’s order, you can still talk to your landlord about your situation. Your landlord may be willing to work with you. You should talk to a lawyer about whether you have other defenses to eviction.
If you rent in Montana, call Montana Legal Services Association at 1-800-666-6899 or apply online at mtlsa.org. If you live somewhere else, you’ll want to find free legal help where you rent.
Can I stop paying rent if I qualify for the CDC’s eviction moratorium?
No. The eviction moratorium does not forgive any rent that you owe or any rent that comes due. You are still required to make your best efforts to pay rent under the CDC’s eviction moratorium. This includes making your best efforts to make partial rent payments. When the eviction moratorium ends, you will have to pay back all of the rent you owe your landlord.
Under the CDC order, the landlord can still charge you late fees if you do not pay your rent. Several states have funding to help tenants cover their rent. If you live in Montana, you can apply to the Emergency Housing Assistance Program. For free help with your application, contact Neighbor Works. If you live outside Montana, you can visit 211.org to find local resources.
Can I be evicted for reasons other than not paying my rent?
Yes. If you're being evicted for something other than not paying rent or making a housing payment, the CDC order may not protect you. You must still follow the other terms of your lease agreement. The CDC order specifically says you can still be evicted for reasons such as these:
- engaging in criminal activity while on the premises;
- threatening the health or safety of other residents;
- damaging the property;
- violating health or safety regulations; or
- breaching your lease agreement.
The CDC order doesn’t specifically say whether you can be evicted for no reason, either at the end of your lease, or at the end of a 30 days notice if you’re a month to month tenant. If you get that kind of a notice of termination, it’s up to you to decide whether to submit the Declaration to your landlord. CAUTION: If any of the statements in the Declaration are not true for you, then you would need to mark out those statements, or change the wording of the Declaration, to make it true for you before you sign it. You can be prosecuted for perjury if you include any false information in your signed Declaration. Keep in mind that if you have to make any changes to the Declaration to make it fit your situation, then the CDC order may not protect you from eviction.
If your landlord files an eviction lawsuit against you that is not based on a lease violation, but is based on your lease expiring or your failure to move after receiving a 30 day notice for no reason, then it would be up to the judge to decide whether the CDC order halts that kind of eviction for no reason. You can point out to the judge that the CDC’s order is intended to protect public health and to keep housed those tenants (like you) who haven’t violated their lease. If you are being evicted for reasons other than non-payment, you can still talk to your landlord about your situation. Your landlord may be willing to work with you. You should talk to a lawyer about whether you have other defenses to eviction. If you rent in Montana, call Montana Legal Services Association at 1-800-666-6899 or apply online at mtlsa.org. If you live somewhere else, you’ll want to find free legal help where you rent.
How does the CDC’s order affect my state’s COVID-19 eviction protections?
The CDC eviction moratorium overrides any state order that provides less protections for tenants. In Montana, the Governor’s directives only provide protections for tenants being evicted for non-payment of rent who:
- Lost income due to COVID-19;
- Are especially vulnerable to COVID-19; and,
- Remain sheltered in place.
The CDC’s order protects more people from eviction than the Governor’s directives, but if a tenant qualifies for protection under both, then the landlord must follow both the CDC order and the Governor’s directive.
If you rent outside Montana, your state may have stronger protections than the CDC order. You’ll want to find that out, and to find free legal help where you rent.
Keep in mind that if you qualify for protection under the CDC order and under the Governor’s directive, it’s a good idea to notify your landlord of both protections. You can find form letters for your landlord for the CDC order at the end of this article. You can find the form letter for the Governor’s directive on this website.
Can my landlord charge me late fees and other fees, or increase my rent?
The CDC order allows a landlord to charge late fees if rent is not paid on time. The Governor’s directive for vulnerable persons does not allow late fees.
For Montana renters, the Governor's order for vulnerable persons provides more protections than the CDC order related to late fees and other charges, and related to rent increases. Late fees and other charges related to nonpayment of rent cannot be charged to a Montana renter who meets the qualifications in the Governor's current directive, and the rent cannot be increased (except in certain circumstances). To qualify for protection under the Governor's directive, you must send your landlord a letter saying that you are protected by the directive. Learn more about if you might qualify for the protections in the Governor’s directive and download a letter to send to your landlord.
Where can I get help with rent and utilities?
If you live outside Montana, you can visit 211.org to find local resources.
If you rent in Montana, you may be able to get financial help through the Emergency Housing Assistance program. You can apply for the program online. If you’re having trouble applying for the program, you may be able to get free help with the application from NeighborWorks.
If you’re struggling with your utility bills, you may be able to get help through the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP). You can apply at your local LIEAP eligibility office. Find your local LIEAP office.
Download Legal Forms
- Skip to the end of this article to download a free write-in-the-blank CDC Declaration to give to your landlord.
- Download a free write-in-the-blank letter to your landord about the Governor's directive.
Find Community Resources
- Apply for the Montana Emergency Housing Assistance Program.
- Check out the County Resource Guide for your county to find local resources.
- Visit Montana211.org or dial 2-1-1 for help finding local resources.
Get Legal Help
- Montana Legal Services Association provides free civil legal help to eligible clients. Learn more about how to apply for free legal help in Montana.
- If you are eligible for Montana Legal Services Association, you may be able use Ask Karla to ask a volunteer attorney a civil legal question by email.