Landlord Tenant COVID19 FAQs

updated September 10, 2020

What is the federal Order halting residential evictions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)?

Effective September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020, there is a federal moratorium on residential evictions due to failure to pay rent because of the impacts COVID-19 for tenants that meet certain criteria.

What residential properties are covered under the CDC order?

“Residential property" means any property leased for residential purposes, including any house, building, mobile home or land in a mobile home park, or similar dwelling. The property does not have to be federally insured or federally backed.

​What tenants are covered under the CDC Order?

The moratorium applies to tenants that declare under penalty of perjury that ALL of the following statements are true.

  • They have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
  • They either expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), were not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
  • They are unable to pay full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary (at least 7.5% of income) out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  • They are using their 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 nondiscretionary expenses;
  • If evicted they would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because they have no other available housing options;
  • They understand that they must still pay rent or make a housing payment, and comply with other obligations that they may have under the tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract. They must further understand that fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making a housing payment on time as required by the tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract may still be charged or collected;
  • They understand that at the end of this temporary halt on evictions on December 31, 2020, their housing provider may require payment in full for all payments not made prior to and during the temporary halt and failure to pay may  subject the tenant to eviction pursuant to State and local laws;
  • Any false or misleading statements or omissions may result in criminal and civil actions for fines, penalties, damages, or imprisonment.

Each adult tenant listed on the lease agreement must complete the following declaration, or a similar document under penalty of perjury, and provide a copy to their landlord: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/declaration-form.pdf

Does the CDC Order cover all types of evictions?

​No. Tenants may still be evicted for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment. The Order specifically mentions evictions may be based on the following:

  • Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises;
  • Threatening the health or safety of other residents;
  • Damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property;
  • Violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or
  • Violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).

Is the moratorium automatic?

No.  It only applies when each adult residential tenant listed on the lease agreement has provided his or her landlord the following declaration, or a similar document under penalty of perjury, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/declaration-form.pdf

​What if a landlord will not accept the declaration?

A tenant should document the attempt to deliver the declaration, for example, save a copy of the email or letter and the signed and dated declaration.  If the matter proceeds to a court hearing, the tenant can let the court know that he or she attempted to provide the completed declaration to the landlord and provide documentation. Landlords that violate the CDC Order may be subject to criminal penalties.  The CDC Order states that the United States Department of Justice may start court proceedings for violations of the Order. 

Can I be evicted under an eviction order dated before September 4, 2020?

No, if you provide the declaration.  Under the Order, eviction orders dated prior to September 4 may not be executed if the tenant provides the landlord with the declaration.

​​Is a landlord required to renew my lease under the CDC Order?

​No.  The CDC Order does not require landlords to renew leases that expire while the CDC Order is in effect.

​Am I still responsible to pay rent, fees, and penalties under CDC Order?

Yes.  The CDC Order does not change the tenant's responsibility to pay rent, and any applicable fees or penalties as provided under the lease agreement. If you can pay rent, you should do so. If you are unable to make rent payments during the emergency, you will have a debt for the rent payments that you were unable to make.

May a landlord charge late fees or penalties for missed rent payments or late rate payments that occurred during the CDC Order?

Yes.  Late fees and penalties may be assessed on any missed rent payment or any late rent payment that occurred during the effective period of the CDC Order. 

​Have evictions been suspended for tenants living in Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured Single Family properties?

​Yes, evictions of tenants from properties secured with FHA-insured Single Family mortgages, excluding evictions of legally vacant or abandoned properties, are also suspended through December 31, 2020.

For more information on Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidance related to COVID-19, please see the following resources: https://www.hud.gov/ and the WHEDA FAQ.

How is the CDC Order different from the FHA moratorium on evictions?

​Tenants must meet certain criteria for the CDC Order to apply, including certain income requirements. Tenants living in FHA covered properties do not have to meet additional requirements.

Where can I find a copy of the CDC Order?

​Click here to find a copy of the CDC Order. (https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-19654.pdf)

Are there resources and funding available to assist in the payment of rent?

​Yes.  The Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program will provide direct financial assistance for owed rent, security deposits, and wrap around services for program eligible individuals.  For more information on this program see: https://doa.wi.gov/Pages/LocalGovtsGrants/COVID-Grants.aspx.  In addition, local agencies may also have rental assistance programs.  

What can landlords do if they are not receiving rent payments?

​Landlords and tenants are encouraged to make reasonable, good faith efforts to work together during this public health emergency. Landlords should document all relevant communications.  Landlords could see if the tenant is aware of the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program to help the tenant gain assistance for rent payments.  They could also reach out to their mortgage lender for guidance and possible assistance as needed.  Landlords may also check to see if they are eligible for services or benefits under the CARES Act.

Who is responsible to enforce the CDC Order?

​The federal Department of Health and Human Services and cooperating state and local authorities have the authority to enforce the CDC Order.​

What was the emergency rule related to rental late fees and penalties?​

DATCP promulgated an emergency rule to prohibit the charging of late residential rental fees and penalties from April 25, 2020 through August 8, 2020. This was an effort to provide some relief to tenants who had been affected by the COVID19 economic challenges.

However, on June 25, 2020, the Wisconsin Legislative Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the emergency rule. As a result, late fees and penalties may now be charged as outlined in rental contracts effective June 25, 2020. Fees and penalties for the period the emergency rule was in effect, April 25, 2020 to June 24, 2020, may never be assessed or charged to a tenant.​

On what date may landlords resume charging late rental fees and penalties because the emergency rule is no longer in effect?

As of June 25, 2020, the Wisconsin Legislative Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the emergency rule related to residential rental late fees and penalties. As a result, late fees and penalties may now be charged as outlined in rental contracts effective June 25, 2020.

Fees and penalties for the period the emergency rule was in effect, April 25, 2020 to June 24, 2020, may never be assessed or charged to a tenant's balance.

May a landlord charge a fee or penalty for nonpayment or late payment of residential rent?

Yes, starting June 25, 2020, landlords may charge a fee or penalty for nonpayment or late payment of residential rent IF it is part of the rental agreement. On June 25, 2020, the Wisconsin Legislative Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the emergency rule which had prohibited these fees and penalties starting on April 25, 2020, through 90 days following the expiration of the Governor's Executive Order #72.

When the effective period of the emergency rule ended, may a landlord then charge late fees or penalties for missed rent payments or late rate payments that occurred during the emergency rule?

No.  Late fees and penalties may never be assessed or charged for any missed rent payment or any late rent payment that occurred during the effective period of the emergency rule.  With respect to missed rent payments and late rent payments that occur during the period of the emergency rule, late fees and late penalties are prohibited.​

Will there be any delays in eviction proceedings due to COVID-19?

The scheduling and holding of court evictions hearings will depend on each court's procedures and caseload.  For information on current circuit court operations, please see the COVID-19 tab on the following webpage:  https://wicourts.gov/.  For the most up-to-date information regarding individual county operations, please visit their website or contact the clerk of circuit court office.

Can I be evicted under an eviction order dated before March 27, 2020?

No.  Under state law, eviction orders dated prior to March 27 may not be executed by a sheriff.

Are there going to be any considerations or assistance given to tenants who are unemployed and don't have money to pay rent?

Landlords and tenants are encouraged to make reasonable, good faith efforts to work together during this public health emergency.  Tenants may be eligible for CARES Act financial rental assistance through the state or if available in their county.  For more information on the statewide Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program see:  https://doa.wi.gov/Pages/LocalGovtsGrants/COVID-Grants.aspx   

May a landlord refuse to rent to a person because the person might be at risk for COVID-19? May a landlord evict a tenant because the tenant has, had, or is at risk for COVID-19?

Discrimination in housing is unlawful (Wis. Stat. § 106.50). Refusing to rent or making housing unavailable because a person has, had, or is at risk for COVID-19 might violate the prohibition of discrimination in housing. If a prospective or current tenant thinks that a landlord has engaged in discrimination by refusing to rent or by making housing unavailable because of COVID-19, that person may file a complaint with the Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development. 

May a landlord enter a leased rental property?

Landlords should check with their local authorities on whether any local order prohibits entry by landlords, contractors, prospective tenants, or other persons in leased rental properties due to COVID-19.​

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