NEW RULE REQUIRES NOTIFYING RENTERS BEING EVICTED
Courtesy of the National Apartment Association
On April 19, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued an interim final rule requiring “debt collectors” to provide written notice to renters of their rights under the CDC’s eviction moratorium order and prohibiting "debt collectors" from misrepresenting renters’ eligibility for protection from eviction under the moratorium. The rule will go into effect on May 3 and last through the duration of the CDC Order, which was recently extended through June 30, 2021.
To understand whether the rule applies to you, it is important to note the CFPB’s definition of “debt collector,” derived from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). According to the CFPB, under the FDCPA:
[The interim final rule requirement] may include lawyers who represent landlords or property managers in eviction court to collect unpaid rent, if they start collecting the debt for [a renter’s] landlord after [renters] fall behind on [their] payments.
We understand that there are other considerations as well, including relevant case law that may be more conclusive about whether property managers or management firms are categorized as “debt collectors,” and whether state eviction laws and court processes separate the process to recover possession from actions to cover outstanding rent debt.
We highly encourage all NAA members to seek the advice of a local attorney before proceeding with an eviction to understand whether CFPB’s rule applies.
As an added protection, we suggest all members consider adding the CFPB’s sample disclosure language to your eviction notice. For NAA members who participate in NAA Click & Lease, we are adding a form that contains similar disclosure language for users. Additional resources and compliance training are forthcoming, as well.
CFPB’s Sample Language:
The CFPB’s rule is an unfortunate expansion of the CDC’s Order, and we are continuing conversations with the Administration and federal agency officials about the ongoing challenges that rental housing providers face while the CDC Order and related federal requirements remain in place. In addition to being bad public policy, these efforts make compliance difficult in an area where there is already an abundance and patchwork of legal requirements complicating the CDC’s Order. This interim final ruling only adds to the confusion as federal, state and local eviction moratoria are being applied very differently in courts across the country.
It is time to end federal efforts that interfere with the eviction process. NAA will continue combating these policies and shift focus to the distribution of the almost $50 billion of federal rental assistance.
CDC EXTENDS EVICTION MORATORIUM THROUGH JUNE 30
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed a declaration determining that the evictions of tenants could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the spread of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Click here for current details.
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DIRECTOR'S ORDER: APRIL 5, 2021
CFPB ACTING DIRECTOR UEJIO AND FTC ACTING CHAIRWOMAN SLAUGHTER ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON PREVENTING ILLEGAL EVICTIONS
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Acting Director Dave Uejio and Federal Trade Commission Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter issued a joint statement regarding their agencies’ work to help stop illegal evictions and protect American consumers facing economic hardship due to COVID-19.
CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio and FTC Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter:
“Staff at both agencies will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms, to ensure that they are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or evicting or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices, including under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. We will not tolerate illegal practices that displace families and expose them—and by extension all of us—to grave health risks.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a financial crisis that threatens the ability of millions to stay in their homes. Renters and homeowners experiencing pandemic-related unemployment or wage reduction are struggling to make monthly payments. A recent CFPB report found that over 11 million families are behind on their rent or mortgage payments: 2.1 million families are behind at least three months on mortgage payments, while 8.8 million are behind on rent.
Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an extension of its moratorium on residential evictions to keep people in their homes, out of shelters, and to stop the spread of COVID-19. Renters have struggled to exercise their rights under the CDC’s eviction moratorium, and news reports indicate many renters have been forced out of their homes despite federal protections.
Keeping Consumers Informed of their Rights
The CFPB and FTC are working with CDC to make renters aware of their rights under the eviction moratorium and to help them to understand how to complete declarations needed to stop evictions.
Renters can learn about their eviction and debt collection rights and how to get help with housing costs at www.consumerfinance.gov/renters.
The CFPB is also regularly providing updated information on a wide range of mortgage relief options and rental protections available to consumers. These updates can be found here: www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/mortgage-and-housing-assistance/
The agencies are also monitoring consumer complaints for spikes and trends in potential COVID-related violations that may threaten housing security and require CFPB or FTC action.
If you have a problem with a financial product or service, the CFPB encourages you to file a complaint, particularly if you are facing a pandemic-related financial hardship. To file a complaint, visit www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ or call (855) 411-2372 or via TTY/TDD at (855) 729-2372.
DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY UPDATES FAQS FOR EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The Department of the Treasury has issued updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Recall that ERAP was created under the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act and is administered by the Secretary of the Treasury.They are posted on this page near the bottom under “Transparency:”
Click here for more details.
DECEMBER 20, 2020 STIMULUS PACKAGE: EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE
Click here to review the Emergency Rental Assistance portion of the Stimulus Package passed on December 20 in response to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.
Senator Portman (R-OH) has been working hard to get a deal done on additional COVID-19 relief, and was a key negotiator on housing related issues, especially the Emergency Rental Assistance, detailed below.
Additionally, Senators Portman and Brown participated in a bipartisan package that authorizes a second round of PPP loans for the hardest hit small businesses, additional unemployment benefits, support for health care providers, additional funding for vaccine development and distribution, funding for testing and tracing, funding to help those battling addiction, and much more.
It is anticipated that Ohio will receive about $778.1 million in rent relief dollars by late February. Fortunately, the $55+ million in Community Development Block Grant funding that the Ohio Development Services Agency recently allocated for the Home Relief Grant Program should cover the gap before the new funds reach our state. Cities and counties with populations over 200,000 will receive a direct allocation of the Emergency Rental Assistance funds. This new set of funds will have different guidelines, mainly due to leadership by Senator Portman, providing for a block grant that is pretty hands off and gives states lots of flexibility. But there are a few key guardrails:
- $25 billion for emergency rental assistance and utility payments will be funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund and administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury;
- Assistance can cover up to 12 months of back and forward rent, with an additional three months in certain cases;
- The CDC’s eviction moratorium will be extended one month to Jan. 31.
- Households below 80 percent area median income (AMI) are eligible for rental assistance funds if they qualified for unemployment insurance or experienced reduced household income or financial hardship due to the pandemic; and are at risk of homelessness or housing instability;
- States and localities must prioritize households below 50 percent of AMI and/or those who have been unemployed for 90 days;
- Property Owner/Managers can apply for assistance on the resident’s behalf but tenant must cosign the application. Payments must be used to pay the resident’s rental obligations;
- Cities and states can make payments directly to Property Owner/Managers or utility companies on behalf of renters. If a Property Owner/Manager refuses to accept rental assistance, it goes directly to resident to pay to Property Owner/Managers or utility provider;
- Up to 10 percent of funds can be used to provide case management and other services intended to help keep households stably housed;
- Extends the deadline for spending previously allocated Coronavirus Relief Funds to Dec. 31, 2021
Congress also passed fiscal year 2021 appropriations (for the fiscal year that started October 2020) with increases for many of the regular housing and homelessness programs administered by HUD and the USDA. The spending bill likely provides enough funding to renew existing contracts for the Housing Choice Voucher program and Project-Based Rental Assistance. Congress also increased many other HUD programs and canceled the Continuums of Care funding competition for 2021.
GRANT FUNDING FOR RESIDENTS AND PROPERTIES
The amount of resources available for residents struggling to pay rent due to Covid-19 has increased in Hamilton County, OH to $5,000 per Household. The documents necessary to apply for both the resident and property owner are attached and also available on the GCNKAA website under Covid-19 resources. Please share the applications and the quoted instructions below with residents in need!
Applicants should fill out the application in the pdf, save it, and send it back to Jessica.Wilcher@jfs.ohio.gov. Please attach pay documentation (pay stubs/unemployment form/etc), rent statement/utility statement showing amount owed, and if applicable name on account and account number. The landlords should also fill out vendor forms and fax them to 513-946-7270. The vendor forms are attached for convenience. Ms Wilcher disburses those between herself and a second employee (Amber Hill). This is first priority work for these two employees and it typically moves very quickly. Once approved/ denied the applicant is sent an email with the decision. Invoices along with the approval letter get sent to Brandy Scott Herrmann for payment to be received.
Prospective Vendor Letter of Commitment 2020
Hamilton County CARES Act Rent and Utility Assistance Application
Vendor Registration Form