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The Center for Disease Control(CDC) has issued an order halting residential evictions in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The order is in effect through December 31, 2020.

The order includes a “Tenant Declaration” that will be required from a resident should they wish to seek protection from eviction as outlined in the CDC order.

Cocke County General Sessions Court Judge Brad Davidson says the highlights of the order include;

- it applies to residential evictions, not to commercial properties.

- a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction may not evict any covered person from any jurisdiction to which the Order applies.

- the tenant must execute a declaration under penalty of perjury indicating that: the individual has exhausted efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing; expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return; is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income or medical expenses; is making a best effort to make timely partial payments and eviction would likely render the individual homeless or be forced to live in close quarters in a new shared living setting.

For protection under the order, a tenant must provide an executed copy of the Declaration form, under penalty of perjury, to their landlord.

The CDC has indicated that the order applies to residential eviction cases that have already been filed with the clerk.

If landlords file an eviction notice after the tenant has provided them with a declaration, they risk incurring a federal criminal penalty of a fine up to $200,000 and a year in jail. The fine increases to $500,000 if the eviction results in a COVID death.

The order does not include foreclosures on home mortgages, evictions based on criminal activity, threats to the health or safety of other residents, damage of property, violation of codes, health ordinance, or

similar regulation relating to health and safety; or other contractual obligations.

The Tenant Declaration Form is available in the Cocke County General Sessions Court Clerk’s office for any tenants who wish to seek protections under the CDC temporary order halting residential evictions.