Per guidance from Judge Morrissey, Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order regarding evictions--effective on Sept. 4, 2020—will be considered an affirmative defense for a Failure to Pay Rent eviction. As with the Governor’s order which deems substantial loss of income due to COVID-19 an affirmative defense, if a tenant brings evidence to court that they meet the CDC requirements to prohibit eviction, a housing provider will not receive a judgment of possession for a unit. Per Judge Morrissey’s presentation before the House of Delegates Environment and Transportation Committee on Sept. 9, if the Court determines that rent is owed, they will note that on the case file but will hold off on issuing the judgment until either the Governor’s or CDC’s order lifts.
Upon termination of the CDC Order, the court, without request from any party, will enter each judgment for possession that was reserved by the court. The housing provider is required to inform the court of any payments made by the tenant while the case is pending or is reserved. If the rent has been paid prior to the termination of the Order, the case will be dismissed.
The CDC order provides that a housing provider may not evict any tenant of a residential property who provides to their landlord/ owner of the property a declaration under penalty of perjury indicating that:
- The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
- The individual either (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for CalendarYear 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
- The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
- The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other non discretionary expenses; and
- Eviction would likely render the individual homeless— or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting— because the individual has no other available housing options.
The CDC Order can be found here: https://federalregister.gov/d/2020-19654.
Note, Judge Morrissey stated that the Order is unclear if this declaration must be made to the housing provider in court or prior to the court appearance.