Tenants facing pandemic eviction have a new ally: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
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The Centers for Disease Control’s pandemic eviction moratorium has a little over two months to go. That’s to give renters and landlords time to receive the money set aside for them in the American Rescue Plan.
In the meantime, another federal agency — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — is stepping in with its own rule to make sure tenants know their rights and those violating the moratorium know the legal risks.
Starting May 3, debt collectors will be required to give tenants “clear and conspicuous” written notice of their rights under the CDC moratorium.
“The notice has to be provided on the same day as the eviction notice, or if there’s no eviction notices required by law, on the day the eviction action is filed,” said Dave Uejio, acting director of the CFPB.
Debt collectors are also forbidden from giving tenants misleading information about their rights.
Now, just who this rule applies to gets a bit complicated.
Jan Stieger, who runs the Receivables Management Association International, an industry group representing collection agencies and debt purchasers and sellers, said the only time her members “would get involved would be sort of post-eviction, when there may be some rent due, and that gets turned to collections or potentially sold to our members.”
So the CFPB is targeting one segment of the collection market.
“Some landlords hire debt collectors to initiate the eviction process, whether that’s sending the initial eviction letter trying to collect on unpaid rent, or they will hire an attorney,” said Andrea Bopp Stark, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.
In this case, lawyers can also be debt collectors. If they don’t follow the new rules, the CFPB says, they could face prosecution and leave themselves open to tenant lawsuits, including class actions.
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