The COVID-19 virus has caused economic hardship for many Americans. In addition to some of the measures already enacted to help struggling individuals, such as temporary eviction relief, Payment Protection Program, and unemployment benefits, the federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a new set of mandates that may allow individuals to avoid eviction under certain circumstances. The purpose of the CDC order is to help reduce the number of Americans dislocated during the pandemic who might be exposed to, or become spreaders of, COVID-19 as a result of their dislocation.
The CDC order puts a halt on evictions for tenants meeting the following conditions:
- The lease and unit in question is residential; - The eviction is for the nonpayment of rent; - The tenant signs a declaration under penalty of perjury that:
o You have used their best efforts to obtain government aid for rent or housing;
o You either: (any one of)
§ Expect to earn less than $99,000 in 2020;
§ Did not have any income to report to the IRS in 2019; or
§ Received a stimulus check.
o Your inability to pay rent is due to a substantial loss in household income or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
o You are making best efforts to make timely payments (whether full or partial);
o You would likely become homeless as a result of the eviction, or would have to move into shared housing (including shelters, family, or other shared housing with close quarters);
o You acknowledge that you are still responsible for fulfilling your duties under the lease, including rent, late fees, etc.; and
o You also acknowledge that the CDC halt on evictions lasts only through December 31, 2020 at which time evictions may resume based on rent not paid during the moratorium (i.e. you need to be caught up on rent before this period expires).
In addition to the CDC order, all levels of courts have enacted guidelines and restrictions on how the courts operate during this pandemic. The order from the supreme court, the highest state court in Nebraska, can be found here. Each individual county court also has their own specific restrictions and guidelines, which can be obtained by contacting the court clerk of a particular county.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or if you have reason to suspect that you may have been exposed or are currently suffering symptoms, you should contact the court staff to see what rules are in place that may affect you or your case. In some cases, you may be able to get your court hearing delayed. However, be aware that you are obligated to be at a scheduled hearing until the court gives you notice that it has been moved, delayed, or cancelled.