Since losing her job as a home healthcare aide in March, Ashley Penney said she and her three kids have lived with the threat of eviction just about every month.
“I’m struggling very much,” said Penney. “It’s just destroyed a lot of my life.”
This month Penney said she’s caught up, but finding work has been tough in the pandemic.
The latest news from around North Texas.
“My whole 33 years, I’ve never seen anything like this happen,” said Penney. “It’s new for everybody.”
Starting Friday, renters who can show they can’t pay because of the pandemic can apply for an eviction ban under the Center for Disease Control’s new order.
The order says renters must turn in a signed declaration to their landlords, affirming they will be homeless or forced to move into crowded homes with other people.
There are income limits. Renters can’t expect to make more than $99,000 a year for an individual. Couples must make less than $198,000.
Renters must also affirm that they’ve tried to apply for other forms of rental assistance.
Dallas Attorney Mark Melton, who organized a group of over 100 lawyers providing free legal help during the pandemic, said the CDC order is broader than the previous federal eviction ban.
Unlike the prior ban, this order applies to all residential properties – not just those with federally back mortgages.
Melton also said the CDC’s order would stop evictions that are already in progress.
“This seems to halt all evictions cold in their steps as long as the tenant is a qualifying tenant,” said Melton.
Melton created a PDF he says renters can print out and give to their landlords.
You can also scroll to the bottom of the CDC’s order to find the declaration form.
While the order offers a temporary stop-gap during the pandemic, Melton points out the order has limitations.
“It doesn’t provide any cash into the system. While it does provide excellent protections for tenants, it doesn’t provide any assistance or protections for landlords,” said Melton.
Sandy Rollins with the Texas Tenants Union said Congress needs to do more to expand unemployment benefits and provide rental assistance.
“It was very welcome news, but it was still not enough. It will be postponing the inevitable unless there’s significantly more resources coming to help the people who are unemployed,” said Rollins.
Rollins adds that when the ban lifts on January 1, 2021, tenants will still owe back rent and months of late fees. Renters are not absolved of their obligation to pay full rent or fees.
Ian Mattingly of the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas said an eviction ban on its own will push landlords over a financial cliff too. Landlords still have to pay mortgages, taxes and employees.
“While we understand the rationale behind the need to keep people in their homes, this kind of moratorium without rental assistance to go along with it is going to put people out of business,” said Mattingly.
The CDC order states landlords who violate the eviction ban face criminal penalties.
Evictions for reasons other than nonpayment of rent are still allowed.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.