A new rule by the Department of Housing and Urban Development states that tenants living in HUD-subsidized public accommodation cannot be evicted due to nonpayment unless they are given 30 days notice and information about federal emergency rental assistance. The Federal Register will publish the rule on Thursday.
Although technically the rule will take effect 30 days after publication, a senior HUD official said that all public housing authorities in the country would comply with the directive immediately. According to the official, who was not allowed to speak publicly and spoke under anonymity, the rule change was made due to concern over a rising wave of evictions as the cases continue to move through the courts.
HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said Wednesday that the change was "a significant step to raise tenant awareness about the existence of funds that can help them with past rent and allow them additional time access relief that might prevent eviction altogether."
The new rule does not contain new elements. The original COVID-19 relief package included a 30-day notice requirement. The change will include specific guidance for housing authorities about how to direct tenants towards the billions in emergency rental assistance. This is also intended to allow those funds more time to get through the system.
The rule change will also apply to residents of public housing. This is a program in which private property owners, whether for-profit or not, enter into contracts with HUD to provide affordable housing units. HUD estimates that the new rule will affect 4.1 million people.
Biden administration officials complained that the state and local bureaucracy have entrapped the rental relief funds. According to a senior HUD official, dispersal of funds has been a bit slower than officials expected.
In response to coronavirus pandemic in August, Congress ended the federal moratorium. The federal government is now focusing on funding rental assistance programs while the nationwide moratorium has become a patchwork bans in various places such as Washington, Boston, and New York. Each ban expires on different schedules.
Senior HUD officials stated that one of the main goals of the changes is to unite all jurisdictions.