Federal CARES Act means no evictions for nonpayment - Albuquerque Journal

Federal CARES Act means no evictions for nonpayment

On March 18, the federal government announced a moratorium on some foreclosure-related evictions. Many national headlines implied there was a general moratorium on evictions nationwide. There was not. On March 24, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered judges to stay eviction writs temporarily in rental nonpayment cases, if tenants could prove an inability to pay. This too was widely reported as a “moratorium on evictions.” There was no moratorium. Landlords can still file eviction petitions, tenants are still required to appear at trial, telephonically or in person, and judges can still order them out. Enforcement of eviction orders is now postponed, but only until the crisis passes. Mixed messages crowding the internet confused landlords, tenants and advocates alike, raising and dashing hopes of those seeking relief for the low-income families likely to be hardest hit.

Then, on March 27, Congress passed the CARES Act. It forbids landlords of virtually all federally subsidized properties from filing for eviction for nonpayment of rent or other charges for four months, and prohibits these landlords from charging late fees during this time. This moratorium benefits all tenants of public housing, Section 8, tax credit, USDA and other federally subsidized housing. It also benefits tenants of landlords with government-backed mortgages. When the moratorium ends, landlords wishing to evict for nonpayment must first give 30 days’ notice before filing in court. Simply put, there’s now a true moratorium for many nonpayment-based evictions. The response from national and state press? Crickets. It’s perhaps understandable that the press is being wary, given how fast things have moved and the dangers, evident recently, of overstating the relief available. But this is good news, folks!

Is it enough? No. Many recognize the need for more. The Navajo Housing Authority, which, as a tribal housing authority, is not covered by the law, voluntarily announced it wouldn’t charge rent for two months. This is commendable and appropriate, since merely waiting to file evictions doesn’t address the certainty that many subsidized housing tenants will be hard-pressed to come up with money for previous months once the crisis has passed.

The CARES Act also doesn’t prevent landlords from filing evictions for issues besides nonpayment. It’s our position that it does prevent landlords from filing if the eviction is partly motivated by nonpayment. It’s also our position that although the Supreme Court has not required it across the board, judges seeing any type of new eviction petitions should postpone all but clear emergencies. This isn’t based on CARES, but on the difficulty providing low-income tenants with fair hearings through telephone appearances only.

Although CARES doesn’t apply to all housing or all types of eviction, the public needs to know about it. Are you a tenant who regularly recertifies your income level to calculate your rent? You’re probably covered by the moratorium.

Good news is in short supply right now, and this piece should be spread around. If you can get to a roof without breaking social distancing rules, shout it from the rooftop!

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Federal CARES Act means no evictions for nonpayment

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
Editorial: Remember there are 2 sides to increases in ...
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: Lawmakers and ... From the Editorial Board: Lawmakers and the governor should seriously consider the impact of bills that would raise the minimum wage.
2
New Mexico congressional reps assigned spots on high-profile committees
ABQnews Seeker
State's 'unique and vital role' in ... State's 'unique and vital role' in national security noted
3
Citizen committee deciding what Albuquerque mayor, councilors should earn
ABQnews Seeker
The Citizens' Independent Salary Commission has ... The Citizens' Independent Salary Commission has begun its biennial process to set pay for the Albuquerque mayor and city councilors. Here's how the commission ...
4
Who are the city of Albuquerque's highest-paid employees?
ABQnews Seeker
When it comes to Albuquerque city ... When it comes to Albuquerque city worker paychecks, nobody tops first responders.
5
Documentary looks at connections between women and Route 66
ABQnews Seeker
'Route 66: The Untold Story of ... 'Route 66: The Untold Story of Women on the Mother Road' will be shown in Gallup on Thursday, Feb. 2, and in Albuquerque on ...
6
We need to enact omnibus crime and gun law ...
From the newspaper
OPINION: State's violent crime rate needs ... OPINION: State's violent crime rate needs the 1-2 punch of an omnibus bill focused on harsher penalties and gun-control measures.
7
Editorial: NM can’t afford to go backward on government ...
Editorials
From the Editorial Board: The Inspection ... From the Editorial Board: The Inspection of Public Records Act has a presumption that citizens are entitled to the greatest possible amount of information ...
8
Tribal Remedy Framework addresses systemic inequities
From the newspaper
OPINION: Lawmakers should support tribal approach ... OPINION: Lawmakers should support tribal approach to improve educational outcomes for Native youth.
9
Dollars alone won't solve New Mexico's problems
From the newspaper
OPINION: The current system of distributing ... OPINION: The current system of distributing capital outlay funds needs an overhaul if we want those dollars to do the most good.