Tenants can hold debt collectors liable for illegal evictions

A new interim final rule from the CFPB clarifies that tenants can hold debt collectors accountable for illegal evictions.

The rule supports the Centers for Disease Control and Protection’s temporary eviction moratorium, established amid the pandemic to protect public health and reduce the spread of the virus, according to the CFPB. The CDC’s moratorium, recently extended through June 30, 2021, 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 CFPB’s rule also 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.

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, according to the CFPB.

The CFPB’s interim final rule can be accessed on the agency’s website. The CFPB’s “Fast Facts” about the interim final rule are also available.

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