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Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

Landlord Alert: CDC Issues Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions

On September 1 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020.  With the July 24, 2020 expiration of the prior moratorium established under the CARES Act, the CDC based the new moratorium on the need to protect public health and the likely increase in the spread of COVID-19 if mass evictions take place.

Under the CDC’s Order, “a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any jurisdiction to which this Order applies ***.”  Tenants facing the prospect of eviction and wishing to invoke the moratorium must provide the landlord with a signed declaration containing specific sworn statements including:

  • The tenant has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing.
  • The tenant expects to earn no more than $99,000 in calendar year 2020 (or $198,000 for joint tax filers).
  • The tenant is unable to pay the full rent due to substantial loss of household income.
  • The tenant is using best efforts to make partial rent payments.
  • Eviction would likely render the tenant homeless.

While the CDC’s Order broadly defines what constitutes a residential property and is intended to halt all efforts to remove a tenant for failing to pay rent until the end of the year, it does not relieve the obligation to pay rent or to comply with any other lease obligations. Thus, the Order does not preclude evictions based on criminal conduct, health and safety concerns of other residents, violations of applicable health ordinances and building codes, or the violation of other lease obligations that do not include the timely payment of rent.

Landlords need to be mindful of the CDC Order and seek legal counsel if contemplating eviction between now and the end of the year. Penalties for not complying are steep for an individual and include (i) fines of up to $100,000 if the violation does not result in a death, (ii) fines of up to $250,000 if the violation results in a death, (iii) and can in addition include one year in jail. Penalties for an organization violating the CDC Order similarly are based on whether the violation resulted in a death and can climb as high as $500,000 per violation.

For questions for more information, please contact Member Blake R. Gerney at brgerney@bmdllc.com, or your primary BMD attorney.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.

FCC Adds $198 Million to Strengthen Telehealth for Rural Healthcare Providers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has added an additional $198 million in funding to its Rural Health Care Program. These funds will be used to increase broadband services and telecommunications to bolster telehealth/telemedicine services for rural healthcare providers. Funding for rural healthcare providers was initially capped at $605 million in 2020, but the added funds will now allow the FCC to provide over $800 million to eligible providers.

Finding Opportunity in Adversity: Optimism for the Construction Industry

Looking for good news? If so, you are not alone. Aside from the collective mental, physical and emotional human toll imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, entire sectors of the economy have been ravaged, and old, familiar ways of doing business have been disrupted. Although deemed essential, the construction industry has not been immune to interruption and uncertainty during these unprecedented times. Amid new health and safety concerns, coupled with financial uncertainty, progress on projects has slowed, and the start dates for a number of new projects slated to begin in 2020 have been deferred. However, resilience has always been a trademark of contractors, subcontractors and other industry professionals. Reports indicate that while the construction industry lost more than one million jobs February through April, at least 600,000 of those jobs had been gained back by the end of June.

Yard Sign Do’s and Don’ts: How to Avoid Legal Challenges to Municipal Sign Codes this Election Season

As the nation heads into the tail end of the 2020 general election, municipalities will inevitably face challenges as they seek to regulate the seasonal proliferation of yard signs on residential property. While the matter may seem trifling, a seemingly benign yet content-based sign ordinance can result in significant legal exposure for municipalities that have not heeded recent Supreme Court decisions on content neutrality.