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When and What Types of Notices Can Landlords Send Tenants Under the Cares Act? Finding the Right Path Through Eviction Restrictions and Other Lease-Related Issues

June 08, 2020

How does the CARES Act restrict residential evictions?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides a wide range of aid, relief, and stimulus provisions. It also puts a temporary halt to certain residential evictions from “covered dwellings” for the non-payment of rent for 120 days, from March 27 through July 25.

During this time, a landlord of a “covered dwelling” occupied by a residential tenant cannot:

  • Make, or cause to be made, any court filing to initiate a legal action to take back possession of the “covered dwelling” from the tenant for non-payment of rent or other fees and charges
  • Charge fees, penalties, or other costs related to the non-payment

Does the CARES Act apply to my property?

Any dwelling occupied by a tenant, with or without a lease, that is on or in a “covered property" qualifies as a “covered dwelling” under the CARES Act. If your property meets one of the following requirements, it is considered a “covered property:”

  • Participates in a covered housing program as defined by the Violence Against Women Act (as amended through its 2013 reauthorization)
  • Participates in the rural housing voucher program under section 542 of the Housing Act of 1949
  • Has a federally backed mortgage loan
  • Has a federally backed multifamily mortgage loan

What notices are prohibited during the 120-day period?

Landlords of “covered properties” cannot send notices to vacate for non-payment until after the 120-day period expires. It is unclear whether courts will interpret these restrictions to prohibit all notices to vacate regardless of cause, since the CARES Act does not expressly tie this prohibition to a particular basis. After this period, landlords can send notices to vacate, but they must give tenants at least 30 days to vacate.

If a tenant does not vacate after this 30-day period, the landlord can then institute an eviction proceeding, as long as no state or local restrictions prohibit such a filing.

During the 120-day period, landlords should not send any correspondence to tenants threatening eviction based on non-payment of rent or containing late charges, penalties or other costs related to the non-payment.

What notices are permitted during the 120-day period?

The CARES Act does not stop landlords from sending a notice of non-renewal of the lease if the lease is expiring. Some courts are now requiring a sworn statement or testimony that the property is not subject to CARES Act eviction restrictions for all residential eviction filings. It is unclear at this time how courts will handle an eviction petition based on reasons other than nonpayment of fees if the property is subject to the CARES Act.

Note: These restrictions do not apply to evictions filed before March 27, those involving non-covered properties, and evictions for reasons other than non-payment of rent or other fees and charges.

Before taking any action, check state and local orders. Many states and local courts have suspended eviction actions during this time.

Please contact Amanda Messa or any other member of Phelps’ Real Estate team if you have questions or need compliance advice and guidance. For more information related to COVID-19, please also see Phelps’ COVID-19: Client Resource Portal.