The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued an interim final rule in support of the eviction moratorium instituted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It requires debt collectors to provide written notice to tenants of their rights under the eviction moratorium and prohibits debt collectors from misrepresenting tenants’ eligibility for protection from eviction under the moratorium.
Nearly 9 million households are behind on their rental payments, the CFPB said, and thousands of renters are being evicted every week, often without being told of their rights under the CDC moratorium.
Debt collectors who evict tenants who may have rights under the moratorium without providing notice of the moratorium or who misrepresent tenants’ rights under the moratorium can be prosecuted by federal agencies and state attorneys general for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and are also subject to private lawsuits by tenants.
Under the FDCPA interim final rule, debt collectors, including attorneys, seeking to evict tenants for non-payment of rent must provide tenants who may have rights under the CDC order with clear and conspicuous written notice of those rights. The notice must be provided on the same date as the eviction notice, or, if no eviction notice is required by law, on the date that the eviction action is filed.
“With COVID-19 killing hundreds of Americans every day, kicking families out into the street during this pandemic may literally be a death sentence,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio. “No one should be evicted from their home without understanding their rights, and we will hold accountable those debt collectors who move forward with illegal evictions. We encourage debt collectors to work with tenants and landlords to find solutions that work for everyone.”
A temporary eviction moratorium ordered by the CDC has been extended through June 30. The CDC order generally prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent, if the tenant submits a written declaration that they are unable to afford full rental payments and would likely become homeless or have to move into a shared living setting. This prohibition applies to an agent or attorney acting as a debt collector on behalf of a landlord or owner of the residential property.
The rule goes into effect May 3, and the bureau is offering sample language for notices to debt collectors.
The CFPB proposed a foreclosure ban through the end of the year earlier this month. These are the latest in a string of aggressive moves from Uejio as Biden nominee Rohit Chopra awaits Senate confirmation as head of the bureau.