RHS on Ending of CARES Act Evictions Moratorium

Regulation | July 17, 2020 | by Linda Couch

RHS provides advice as end of CARES Act evictions moratorium nears.

The March 27 CARES Act included a 120-day evictions moratorium for non-payment of rent and prohibited charging fees, penalties, or other charges to the tenant related to such nonpayment of rent. As the sunsetting of these provisions looms, on July 25, the Rural Housing Service has updated its frequently asked questions for multifamily housing providers. Earlier in July, HUD issued two pieces for multifamily owners regarding these CARES Act provisions.

In RHS’s latest Frequently Asked Questions for multifamily housing reminds stakeholders that the CARES Act’s prohibition on late fees remains in place for the period covered by the CARES Act, meaning that if a resident has unpaid rent on August 1, retroactive late fees may not be assessed; late fees may only be charged going forward. RHS encourages multifamily housing owners and agents “to work with tenants wherever possible to assist them in maintaining housing, including processing interim certifications if possible or arranging payment plans for past-due balances,” RHS states. RHS also notes that, while the national prohibition on nonpayment evictions will lift July 25, many state and local governments have ongoing restrictions. A spreadsheet, maintained by professors and students of Columbia Law School, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and University of Pennsylvania Law School shows state and local moratoria.

RHS also states that tenants who completed a previous interim recertification may need to complete a second interim certification. According to the RHS FAQs, if staff are no longer maintaining office hours, management must ensure tenants have a way to maintain contact, report emergency maintenance issues, and ask questions or request an interim certification. “It is strongly recommended that both a phone number and email address are provided to tenants as contact options. Electronic rent payment may be offered as an option, but must not be mandatory and no additional fees may be charged. Digital signatures may be utilized during the recertification process as needed,” the FAQ says.