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CDC Extends Eviction Protections For The Last Time

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended an order providing eviction protections for tenants for the last time Thursday, officials said.

The order, which was set to expire on June 30 but will now last until July 31, allows tenants to use a substantial pandemic-related loss of income to temporarily avert an eviction, mirroring similar protections put in place by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R). Hogan’s protections will phase out the expiration of Maryland’s state of emergency and eventually end in mid-August.

The state and federal eviction protections don’t absolve the tenant from paying rent, but rather temporarily delay the warrant of restitution required to finalize an eviction.

“This defense, if applicable, may be raised by motion or at trial in any residential failure to pay rent case that may have been initiated prior to September 4, 2020 but is not yet completed,” Bradley Tanner, a public information officer for Maryland Courts said in an emailed statement before the CDC order was extended. “If a tenant is successful in asserting this defense, the court will determine the merits of the case and/or the amount that is due for possession but will reserve entry of judgment until such time as the judgment is not prohibited by the CDC agency order.”

Tanner said that Maryland courts will move forward with reserved judgments when the CDC order expires.

Maryland has four types of eviction cases: failure to pay rent, tenant holding over, breach of lease and wrongful detainer. Hogan’s order covers failure-to-pay rent and breach of lease eviction actions, and the CDC order has similar provisions.

Landlords who file any type of eviction case need to receive a judgment before filing a “petition for warrant of restitution.” If a warrant of restitution is granted, the eviction moves forward.

In a letter to District Court of Maryland Chief Judge John Morrissey last week, advocates warned that the court’s plan to immediately process reserved judgments could mean that some tenants are evicted despite making payments after the judgment was entered.

In the letter, advocates warn that tenants with reserved judgments “may be facing eviction with little-or-no notice and no meaningful opportunity to dispute the landlord’s assertion that they still owe rent.”

Attempts by the General Assembly to codify and expand protections for tenants — including allowing tenants to raise an affirmative defense for several months after the end of a catastrophic health emergency — failed to pass before the end of the 2021 legislative session.

Fair housing advocates have cautioned against characterizing either the CDC or state orders on evictions as “moratoriums,” since they only apply to certain evictions. Local elected officials and advocates called on Hogan last month to institute a broad moratorium on evictions for 90-120 days while local and state governments use federal stimulus funding to set up rent relief and eviction prevention programs, but no such order has been instituted.

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CDC Extends Eviction Protections For The Last Time