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Legal Issues


State and Federal Developments for Iowa Landlords - August 10, 2020

FEDERAL NEWS: Executive Order Issued Regarding Evictions

As I reviewed earlier, the federal eviction moratorium expired on July 25, allowing landlords in covered properties to begin the process of evicting nonpaying tenants. Since then, Congress has discussed a possible renewal of the federal eviction moratorium, but as of this writing, Congress has not renewed or extended the CARES Act federal eviction moratorium.


Presidential Executive Order

In response to the lack of congressional action, on Saturday, August 8, 2020, President Trump issued a series of executive orders, one of which was aimed at extending protections for tenants against evictions. In the order, President Trump makes several sweeping statements:

 

“Unlike the Congress, I cannot sit idly and refuse to assist vulnerable Americans in need…. Accordingly, my Administration, to the extent reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, will take all lawful measures to prevent residential evictions and foreclosures resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19…. The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of CDC shall consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from one State or possession into any other State or possession…. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shall take action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to promote the ability of renters and homeowners to avoid eviction or foreclosure resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19. Such action may include encouraging and providing assistance to public housing authorities, affordable housing owners, landlords, and recipients of Federal grant funds in minimizing evictions and foreclosures…. In consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of FHFA shall review all existing authorities and resources that may be used to prevent evictions and foreclosures for renters and homeowners resulting from hardships caused by COVID-19.”

 

Importantly, however, the text of Trump’s order does not actually renew or extend the eviction moratorium, nor does it provide money for rental assistance. Thus, as of today’s writing, the CARES Act federal moratorium has not been extended, but there is likely more to come in this regard, either by way of additional executive orders or congressional action.


What does it mean for Iowa landlords? 

As of today’s writing, there is no federal (or state) eviction moratorium in place. However, there is still the additional 30-day notice to vacate required for landlords of covered properties, so landlords wanting to commence nonpayment eviction actions have to wait out this 30-day period, and it’s anyone’s guess as to if the federal eviction moratorium will be renewed.

 

If by executive order or congressional action, the moratorium is renewed, we will communicate how it impacts landlords. The precise wording of the order or legislation will determine what actions landlords can or should take.

 

IOWA NEWS: Rental Assistance Program Expanded - Direct Payments to Landlords

On August 4, the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) announced that more Iowans will be eligible to receive assistance with their rent and mortgage payments through the COVID-19 Iowa Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention program. I reviewed the program’s benefits and eligibility in an earlier blog post. As noted, the program is welcome news for tenants and landlords because, for tenants approved under the program, the state issues payments directly to the landlord.

 

IFA expanded the program’s eligibility criteria to allow Iowans who had been receiving federal unemployment stimulus benefit payments checks to apply for assistance through the program. Under IFA’s previous criteria, such Iowans were not eligible for the program, but now they are. More information can be found in the announcement.

 

Landlords are encouraged to direct renters struggling to pay rent to the Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention program website for more details and to apply.




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