Evictions and COVID-19: A 2021 Update

By January 29, 2021 Real Estate

2020 is officially over, which will come as a relief to many. Now that the socially-distanced holidays are done, Arizonans are turning their attention to matters they may have ignored in the spirit of the season.

One issue that has carried over into 2021 is the protection for tenants facing evictions for non-payment of rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to research from October 2020 from the National Council of State Housing Agencies, “Arizona renters owe at least $178 million to their landlords,” and anywhere from 170,000-250,000 renters in Arizona could be facing eviction.[1]

The “eviction ban” or “eviction moratorium” in Arizona has gone through multiple changes – first, the federal CARES Act, which expired on June 24, 2020 and two Executive Orders from Governor Doug Ducey that expired on October 31, 2020. The Centers for Disease Control issued an order on September 4, 2020 preventing residential tenants from being evicted solely for non-payment of rent as long as they provided an attestation to their landlord. The CDC Order was set to expire on December 31, 2020. The Arizona Supreme Court issued an Administrative Order on October 14, 2020 that interpreted the CDC Order and set guidelines for Arizona courts in processing eviction matters. [2] These protections only extend to evictions for non-payment of rent, not for other breaches of a lease agreement like criminal activity or other material noncompliance with a lease term.

President Biden issued an Executive Order on January 20, 2021, calling for the CDC to extend its eviction moratorium. The CDC extended its current order banning residential evictions until March 31, 2021.[3]

So, what is the current Arizona guidance? The Arizona Supreme Court issued Administrative Order No-2020-229 (“Order 2020-229”), which replaced the October 2020 Administrative Order, which extends most of the protections in the original CDC Order, as well as clarifying certain instructions and issuing new requirements. It is likely that the Arizona Supreme Court will issue another order prior to the end of January 2021 extending Order 2020-229 through March 31, 2021.

Order 2020-229 extends the eviction moratorium for residential tenants through January 31, 2021, due to the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. A landlord

[1]Catherine Reagor, “Relief bill extends eviction ban to Jan. 31, offers billions in aid to renters, landlords.” December 22, 2020, AZcentral.com, available at https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/real-estate/catherine-reagor/2020/12/22/eviction-ban-extended-jan-31-25-b-more-aid-provided-renters-and-landlords/3999547001/ (last visited January 4, 2021).

[2]Administrative Order No. 2020-163, “Disposition of Residential Cases Related to the Public Health Emergency,” October 14, 2020, available at http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/22/admorder/Orders20/2020-163FINAL.pdf?ver=2020-10-14-160741-570

[3]“Media Statement from CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, on Extending the Eviction Moratorium,” January 20, 2021, available at https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0121-eviction-moratorium.html.