Dallas attorney Mark Melton has developed a simple legal form tenants can give their landlords to avoid eviction, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a nationwide moratorium on evictions through the end of the year, but to be eligible for the protection, tenants must opt-in by signing a declaration attesting they meet the CDC’s eligibility requirements and have exhausted every avenue available to pay rent.
The CDC has included a declaration form on page 33 of its order. Melton said he has simplified the form into a template. His form, available here, is only one page, compared to the CDC’s five-page declaration.
“If they don’t give this certification to landlords, then landlords can just move forward with evictions as normal,” Melton said to the DMN. “Most people are not going to pull this thing up and understand it and be able to properly do this.”
Tenants need to be mindful that they are signing a legal document. Everything they attest to must be true, meaning they should be able to prove they have exhausted all possible avenues and will be homeless if evicted.
The CDC’s five requirements:
- You used your “best efforts” to get all available government assistance for housing.
- Your income does not exceed $198,000 if you’re a joint filer or $99,000 if you’re filing by yourself. You may still qualify if you were not required to report any income to the federal government or if you received a stimulus check.
- You have experienced a “substantial loss” of household income, lost wages, were laid off or had “extraordinary” out-of-pocket medical expenses, which the order defines as unreimbursed medical expenses that would be more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income in 2020.
- You are making your “best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment” as your circumstance permits, while taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses.
- If you were to be evicted, you would have no other housing options and would be homeless or living in close quarters with other people.
The eviction moratorium is temporary and only provides protection from eviction due to financial difficulties. Tenants can still be evicted for violating other terms of their leases.
When the moratorium is lifted at the end of the year, tenants will have to resume rental payments, including back rent, or again face the possibility of eviction by the landlords.