Tenant protections from eviction and utility cutoffs vary by state

The CDC implemented the eviction freeze on Sept. 4 to reduce the number of people on the streets who could get infected with and spread the COVID-19 virus. Landlords and other groups filed lawsuits attempting to strike down the halt on evictions, so the future of the policy remains uncertain.

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Jacob van Cleef
Consumer Watchdog, Associate

Author: Jacob van Cleef

Consumer Watchdog, Associate

Started on staff: 2020
B.A. Villanova University

Jacob works to advance U.S. PIRG’s Consumer Watchdog campaign Jacob lives in Philadelphia where he enjoys soccer, listening to podcasts and cooking.

Throughout the United States, the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn has destabilized household finances. Every month since May, 30 percent of households failed to pay rent on time, and 10 percent failed to pay by the end of the month. Policies currently addressing financial issues differ drastically by state, and the national government responded by giving a one-time economic impact payment and halting evictions until Dec. 31, 2020, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

The CDC implemented the eviction freeze on Sept. 4 to reduce the number of people on the streets who could get infected with and spread the COVID-19 virus. Landlords and other groups filed lawsuits attempting to strike down the halt on evictions, so the future of the policy remains uncertain. 

 

Until the lawsuits are decided, the halt on evictions remains in place. The moratorium does not protect everyone; it’s unclear how many people are protected. The halt protects tenants from eviction if they complete the forms required after the policy was enacted. It’s unclear whether this covers evictions filed before the CDC moratorium took effect. 

 

In Pennsylvania, for example, the statewide moratorium on evictions ended before the CDC enacted its eviction ban. It hasn’t been settled whether evictions filed in court during the time before the CDC’s eviction ban was enacted will be allowed to proceed. Tenants who are on month-to-month leases are in greater danger of not being protected. State and local courts determine whether the wording of the CDC halt on evictions covers certain cases because the CDC worded the eviction halt vaguely. 

 

For more specific details on how your local government interprets the CDC moratorium on evictions, check with your city or county government or tenant protection groups. If your state offers more protection than the federal policy, the state policy rules. 

 

Moving forward, no federal policies exist to pay tenants’ rent, or offer other help after the eviction moratorium ends. The policy does call for all overdue rent to be paid when the protection ends. In anticipation of Jan. 1, 2021, landlords nationwide have submitted eviction paperwork that will be processed after the moratorium ends. Experts expect more evictions to follow at that point as people struggle to pay overdue rent.

 

For any questions that do not deal with COVID-19 and evictions, check out the renters’ guide with links to guides and handbooks for each state.

 

For now, some states adopted tenant protections for utilities and evictions. In some states, city and county governments approved additional protections, so you can find that information on local government websites.

 

Alabama: The governor’s halt on evictions expired in June, and no protections have been adopted since then, which means the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utility companies can decide whether or not to continue to provide service.

 

Alaska: The governor’s halt on evictions expired in June, and no protections have been adopted since then, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Alaska adopted a halt on utility disconnections until Nov. 15. 

Arizona: Arizona approved a halt on evictions until Oct. 31. The governor gave rental aid funding to community action agencies for those affected by COVID-19. The halt on evictions is in effect only if the tenant fails to pay rent because of COVID-19. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service. Some electric companies agreed to work with the governor

Arkansas: Arkansa adopted a halt on utility disconnections until the order is rescinded, or until the governor downgrades COVID-19 from an emergency. The governor has not approved any halts on evictions, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection.

 

California: California enacted a halt on utility disconnections until Dec. 31, and a halt on evictions until Feb. 1, 2021. Tenants must pay 25 percent of rent for September until the end of January, or they can be evicted, but with the CDC’s halt on evictions, that only takes effect for January.

 

Colorado: Colorado has not approved any moratorium that is still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection besides a 30-day notification policy. Utility companies decide whether or not to continue to provide access to utilities. To see the policies of various utilities, you can check the Colorado Utilities Tracker.

 

Connecticut: Connecticut enacted a halt on utility disconnections until Oct. 31, and a halt on evictions until Oct. 1. The governor allows certain evictions if not related to COVID-19.

 

Delaware: Delaware allows evictions to be filed but not processed until the governor decides otherwise. Utilities decide whether or not to continue to provide service. Delaware offers financial assistance for rent and utilities.

 

D.C.: Washington D.C. enacted a halt on utility disconnections and a halt on evictions until the state of emergency ends. The city council granted the mayor the ability to extend the state of emergency until Dec. 31. 

 

Florida: Florida enacted a halt on evictions until Oct. 1. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service, and they may increase bills to make up for revenue lost from non-paying customers.

 

Georgia: Georgia has not approved any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Hawaii: Hawaii enacted a halt on utility disconnections until Dec. 31 and a halt on evictions until Sept. 30.

 

Idaho: Idaho has not adopted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Illinois: Illinois enacted a halt on utility disconnections until Aug. 1 and a halt on evictions until Oct. 17. Some utility companies volunteered to extend the halt on disconnections until Sept. 30, but not all.

 

Indiana: Indiana has not adopted any eviction moratorium policies that remain in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service, but they must allow for extended payment arrangements.

 

Iowa: Iowa has not adopted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utility companies decide whether or not to continue to provide access to utilities.

 

Kansas: Kansas adopted a halt on evictions until Jan. 26, 2021. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service, but they must allow for extended payment arrangements.

 

Kentucky: Kentucky adopted a halt on utility disconnections until further notice. The governor’s halt on evictions ended in August, and no protections have been enacted since then, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection.

 

Louisiana: Louisiana has not adopted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Maine: Maine enacted a halt on utility disconnections until further notice. The governor has not approved a halt on evictions, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Maine did create a Rental Relief Program to help those unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 until Sept. 30. 

 

Maryland: Maryland adopted a halt on utility disconnections and a halt on evictions until the state of emergency ends.

 

Massachusetts: Massachusetts enacted a halt on utility disconnections until Nov. 15 and a halt on evictions until Oct. 17.

 

Michigan: Michigan enacted a halt on water disconnections until the state of emergency ends. Michigan helps pay rent for those who qualify. Otherwise, utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Minnesota: Minnesota approved a halt on utility disconnections until COVID-19 is no longer an emergency and a halt on evictions until Oct. 12.

 

Mississippi: Mississippi has not approved any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether or not to continue to provide service.

 

Missouri: Missouri has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utility companies decide whether\ to continue to provide service.

 

Montana: Montana limited who can be evicted and lose utility service. Otherwise, utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Nebraska: Nebraska has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utility companies decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Nevada: Nevada enacted a halt on evictions until Oct. 14. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

New Hampshire: New Hampshire has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service. New Hampshire created a housing relief program to help pay rent.

 

New Jersey: New Jersey enacted a halt on evictions until two months after the end of the public health emergency due to COVID-19. Utilities volunteered to halt utility disconnections until Oct. 15.

 

New Mexico: New Mexico enacted a halt on evictions only for tenants who can prove they  cannot pay rent. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

New York: New York implemented a halt on utility disconnections until 180 days after the COVID-19 state of emergency is over, and a halt on evictions until the COVID-19 state of emergency is over.

 

North Carolina: North Carolina has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

North Dakota: North Dakota has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Ohio: Ohio has not approved any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Oklahoma: Oklahoma has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Oregon: Oregon enacted a halt on evictions until Sept. 30. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania approved a halt on utility disconnections until the emergency proclamation of is over. The governor’s halt on evictions expired Aug. 31, and no protections have been enacted since then, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only eviction protection.

 

Rhode Island: Rhode Island enacted a halt on utility disconnections until Sept. 30. Rhode Island has not approved a halt on evictions currently in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection.

 

South Carolina: South Carolina has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

South Dakota: South Dakota has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Tennessee: Tennessee has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Texas: Texas has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Utah: Utah has not enacted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Vermont: Vermont enacted a halt on utility disconnections until Oct. 15 and a halt on evictions until 30 days after the COVID-19 state-of-emergency is over.

 

Virginia: Virginia approved a halt on utility disconnections until Oct. 5. Virginia has not enacted a halt on evictions currently in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only eviction protection.

 

Washington: Washington enacted a halt on utility disconnections until Oct. 15, and a halt on evictions until Oct. 15.

 

West Virginia: West Virginia has not adopted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

 

Wisconsin: Wisconsin approved a halt on utility disconnections until Nov. 1, and created a Rental Assistance Program to help those struggling financially during COVID-19. Wisconsin has not enacted a halt on evictions currently in effect, so the CDC offers the only eviction protection.

Wyoming: Wyoming has not adopted any policies that are still in effect, so the CDC’s halt on evictions is the only protection. Utilities decide whether to continue to provide service.

Jacob van Cleef
Consumer Watchdog, Associate

Author: Jacob van Cleef

Consumer Watchdog, Associate

Started on staff: 2020
B.A. Villanova University

Jacob works to advance U.S. PIRG’s Consumer Watchdog campaign Jacob lives in Philadelphia where he enjoys soccer, listening to podcasts and cooking.