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Federal regulators trying to give tenants more protections when it comes to evictions

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Posted at 1:33 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 13:33:50-04

More protections for renters are set to take effect next month.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says tenants will need written notice of their rights under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium. It must come from landlords at the same time as an eviction notice.

It's meant to prevent any illegal evictions. However, renters should know the moratorium protections are not automatic and there is a form that needs to be filled out.

“They should fill out the declaratory statement and give it to their landlord to receive those protections, and if they’re able to, they should contact a legal aid attorney in their community that can help them through the process of staying stably housed,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

That declaratory statement needs to show a tenant is unable to pay rent because of the pandemic. Once that statement is accepted, a landlord legally cannot evict a renter.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition says in many cases, landlords have not been telling tenants about the protections they have because they don’t have an obligation to. This new rule aims to change that.

“The way the CFPB is able to have this authority is because they have authority over debt collectors and so in this case, they are defining a debt collector as an attorney working on behalf of a landlord to evict a tenant because debt is owed,” said Yentel.

If landlords don’t follow the new rule, they could face legal challenges from tenants, federal agencies and their state attorney general.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition says this is a big step in protecting more renters. They’re calling on the president to strengthen the moratorium further and close other loopholes.

In the meantime, they urge renters to look into whether there is an emergency rental assistance program where they live. This could provide resources in order to pay owed rent.

That's something the National Apartment Association says Congress should focus on more. In a statement to us, they called the new CFPB rule an unfortunate expansion. They say the $50 billion in the rental assistance program needs to be distributed more efficiently as the public health crisis becomes a housing crisis.