We Need Congress to Sunset the CARES Act Notice to Vacate

Here’s what you need to know about the requirement’s impacts, and how you can make a difference.

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3 minute read

The National Apartment Association (NAA) continues its multi-year advocacy efforts to remove the federal notice requirement for evictions at properties covered by the CARES Act. Because of a drafting error, this requirement remains in effect long after the CARES Act’s temporary eviction moratorium expired on July 24, 2020, causing confusion in eviction courts and exacerbating post-pandemic delays for eviction hearings while housing providers remain unpaid. We urgently need Congress to support a legislative fix to end federal interference into states’ long-established eviction laws and court processes to ensure that housing providers can continue to provide quality, affordable housing to their communities. 

In March 2020, Congress enacted the CARES Act which included a temporary 120-day moratorium on evictions and late fees due to nonpayment of rent, applicable to federally-backed and federally-assisted housing. This section of the CARES Act also instituted what should have been a temporary notice procedure. During the height of pandemic uncertainty, its purpose was to provide covered residents with ample notice before housing providers filed for eviction when the CARES Act’s stay on evictions was lifted. 

The CARES Act “notice to vacate” requirement exceeds any existing notice procedures for evictions due to nonpayment of rent. While required notice periods vary widely according to state and sometimes local law, the average notice is 8 days. The CARES Act requirement more than quadruples the notice procedure in some jurisdictions, which translates into more lost rent while housing providers wait for their day in eviction court. Notice is just the first step to start the eviction court process. 

For professional owners and operators of rental housing, eviction is always a last resort. Their businesses always do better when units are occupied and when they can fully meet their obligations to their residents, employees, creditors and the communities that they serve. COVID-19 highlighted housing providers’ efforts to utilize all available resources and be as flexible as their circumstances allowed to help their residents remain stably housed. But ultimately this federal requirement is not a sustainable solution to prevent renter displacement in this new post-pandemic reality. 

The rental housing industry cannot continue to successfully manage their communities with sustained losses of rental income that result from continued delays of legitimate evictions. This is particularly challenging for operators of subsidized housing and mom and pop owners, ultimately hurting the tens of millions of Americans who work in the industry and the nation’s renters. Everything but 9 cents of every dollar of rent goes to property operations, maintenance and supporting the communities across the country that housing providers serve. For example, housing providers’ property taxes finance schools, emergency services and other local needs. A rent payment is much more important than one might otherwise realize.

For two years, NAA has maintained that the CARES Act notice to vacate requirement should have expired when the eviction moratorium itself expired in line with Congressional intent. It should not permanently replace states’ notice procedures and once this temporary mandate is eliminated, does not interfere with existing tenant protections that have long been established in states’ eviction laws. NAA continues its work to educate policymakers on the consequences of this requirement and urge Congressional support for the legislative solution we developed in collaboration with industry experts that:

  • Provides a clear sunset date for the CARES Act’s notice to vacate requirement that expired 30 days after the Act’s 120-day moratorium terminated; and
  • Clarifies that the notice to vacate provision only applied to cases of nonpayment of rent and outstanding balances that accrued during the moratorium’s covered period.

As NAA continues its advocacy efforts, we need your help to persuade Congress that this critical problem for the industry must be solved and to find a vehicle for this legislative fix. To learn more about how you can help, contact Austin O’Boyle, NAA’s Manager of Grassroots Engagement.