Federal CARES Act’s Eviction Moratorium Applies to Most Federal Housing Programs

On March 27, 2020, the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law. The law includes important, immediate protections for tenants. Specifically, it mandates a 120-day eviction moratorium for tenants living in certain types of properties. The definition of a covered site provided in the CARES Act includes almost all of the nation’s affordable rental sites.             

Covered sites. Section 4024(a) applies the moratorium to sites either with a federally backed mortgage loan or that “participate in” a “covered housing program” as defined in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Federally backed mortgage loans are those made, insured, guaranteed, supplemented, or assisted in any way, by any officer or agency of the federal government, or purchased or securitized by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) or the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae).

Under VAWA, covered programs include:

  • The low-income housing tax credit program;
  • Public housing;
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program;
  • Project-based Section 8 housing;
  • Section 202 supportive housing for the elderly;
  • Section 811 supportive housing for persons with disabilities;
  • Section 236 multifamily rental housing;
  • Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate housing;
  • HOME Investment Partnerships;
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS;
  • McKinney-Vento Act programs; and
  • USDA Rural Development.

Restricted actions. The eviction moratorium operates by preventing owners of covered properties from filing new eviction actions for nonpayment of rent, and prohibits “charg[ing] fees, penalties, or other charges to the tenant related to such nonpayment of rent” [Sec. 4024(b)]. March 27 to July 24, 2020, represents the 120-day moratorium period.             

The federal moratorium also provides that an owner of a covered property may not evict a tenant after the moratorium expires except on 30 days’ notice, which may not be given until after the moratorium period ends [Sec. 4024(c)].

However, the federal eviction moratorium does not affect cases:

  • That were filed before the moratorium took effect or that are filed after it sunsets;
  • That involve non-covered tenancies; or
  • Where the eviction is based on another reason besides nonpayment of rent or nonpayment of other fees or charges.

It’s important to note that for eviction cases that are not prevented by the federal moratorium, state or local eviction moratorium may apply. In fact, your state or local government may have even more restrictive limitations.