CDC Executive Agency Order:
On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control issued an Executive Agency Order temporarily halting residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 (the “CDC Order”). Such temporary moratorium is in place until December 31, 2020; however, it is not a blanket moratorium. Under the CDC Order, landlords are only prohibited from evicting “covered persons” who provide the landlord with the declaration attached to the CDC Order (the “Declaration”). A “covered person” is someone who expects to earn less than $99,000 in 2020 ($198,000 for a household); certifies that he or she has used his or her best efforts to obtain all available governmental assistance to pay rent, but cannot do so due to a substantial loss of household income, hours of work, or wages; affirms that he or she is making best efforts to pay the rent; and affirms that eviction would render him/her/the family homeless. A landlord is not under any obligation to inform a tenant about the CDC Order and is free to proceed with evictions unless or until a Declaration is received from the tenant.
North Carolina Executive Order:
On October 28, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper signed an Executive Order (“EO 171”) which acknowledged the CDC Order and made it clear that the protections apply to any person who could seek assistance under the HOPE Program in NC and to any qualifying resident — not just those tenants residing in rental properties that are federally subsidized. EO171 goes into effect on October 30, 2020. EO171 requires landlords to provide tenants at risk of eviction with a copy of the Declaration attached to the CDC Order. The landlord must provide an affidavit to the court in an eviction proceeding affirming that it has provided a blank copy of the Declaration to the tenant, and a copy of the Declaration must be filed with the court. Only one Declaration is required for a household. If a landlord receives a completed Declaration after summary ejectment proceedings are commenced, it must notify the court within five (5) days of receipt of the Declaration. If the landlord believes the eviction should still proceed despite the receipt of a completed Declaration (for example, perhaps because the tenant does not qualify for protection or the eviction is not based on the failure to pay rent or other fees), then there will be a hearing to determine whether the ejectment action should proceed.
There is no private right of action under EO171, and neither EO171 nor the CDC Order prevents evictions for reasons other than the non-payment of money. However, both carry penalties if violated:
- Violation of the CDC Order can result in criminal charges:
- For individuals: fines of up to $100,000 if the violation does not result in death, or 1 year in jail, or both; or if the violation results in a death, fines of up to $250,000 or 1 year in jail, or both.
- For organizations: a fine of not more than $200,000 if the violation does not result in a death, and up to $500,000 per event if the violation results in death.
- Violation of EO171 is punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor under N.C. Gen. Stat. §14-288.20A.
If you have questions about EO171 or the CDC Order, please contact an attorney for advice on how to comply with both orders.