LAKEWOOD, Ohio — In an unprecedented move, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a temporary eviction moratorium through the end of the year.
The latest move offers renters some protection from losing their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic and a nationwide economic downturn.
While millions of Americans are potentially one missed paycheck away from homelessness, the CDC stated that there is an impending threat to public health.
The order was implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent renters from becoming homeless or living in crowded quarters like shelters.
“This will help families who have been affected by the pandemic,” Melanie Shakarian said. “Keeping families stable and in housing during this public health crisis.”
But the new order is causing confusion and leading some to believe rent is excused through the rest of the year.
“However, it does not take away the obligation to pay rent,” Shakarian said. “You still need to pay your rent.”
Landlords like Dana Blair are potentially facing a tough predicament ahead.
“Ninety percent of landlords are usually mom and pop landlords,” Blair said. “They just have a couple of investment properties.”
The eviction moratorium lists criminal penalties for landlords who evict tenants from now until December 31, but it does not absolve renters from paying up.
“So when you can’t generate income because of the government, I think the government has to step in and provide assistance to not only renters but the landlords,” Blair said.
Blair, along with his wife, owns three small investment properties in Lakewood and said if a tenant was unable to pay rent, he’d work to find a common ground.
“Perhaps they can only pay three-quarters of their rent this month and then moving forward when they’re employed again they catch up,” Blair said.
Shakarian of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland said unless this order is met with rent assistance payments from the government, an eviction moratorium is ultimately just kicking the can down the road.
“It’s only half of an important equation,” Shakarian said. “Without rent assistance to help fund this order, many tenants will face that insurmountable rent burden when the moratorium lifts.”
House Democrats have proposed giving up to $100 billion in assistance to renters, specifically to pay their landlords. The National Multifamily Housing Council said it would support such a move.