The CARES Act and Section 8 Legislation

Posted by Stephen Marshall on

Yesterday a Legal Aid attorney representing a tenant in one of my eviction cases filed a motion to dismiss the case because the housing provider failed to give a 30-day notice to pay or vacate. The argument was that the housing provider is covered by the CARES Act because they accept Section 8 vouchers and the 30-day notice requirement of the CARES Act never expired. Therefore, the case should be dismissed because the housing provider only gave a seven-day notice instead of a 30-day notice.

Now, this was an unprecedented argument. No one has even thought about the CARES Act in Kentucky since early 2021. That was when the Kentucky Supreme Court stopped requiring housing providers to give 30-day notices to vacate and to file Verification of Compliance forms stating that they had complied with the CARES Act.

The attorney cited decisions from the Colorado Supreme Court and an appeals court in the state of Washington that ruled that the CARES Act 30-day notice requirement was still in effect because that portion of the Act had no explicit expiration date like several other parts of the Act.

Now, I think the Kentucky Supreme Court has already implicitly given its position that that requirement no longer exists, but nevertheless it is an argument that tenant attorneys are now making. The specific case in which this argument was raised ended up being settled, so the court didn't rule on the tenant's motion.

But here's the other implication about this argument: it's another reason that housing providers need to oppose the Section 8 legislation being considered by Lexington's Urban County Council. It could conceivably put housing providers in a position where they're required to accept Section 8 vouchers, then required to give a 30-day notice to pay or vacate if the tenant doesn't pay the rent. It means that they might face delays in leasing the property on the front end, then delays in evicting non-paying tenants on the back end. That's a poor deal, to say the least.

That said, there has been some movement that might give housing providers some protection from delays on the front end. We'll see how that develops and remain hopeful.

Here's what you need to do in the meantime:

1. Notices. If your property accepts Section 8 vouchers or any other form of federal assistance, you may have to deal with the 30-day notice argument at some point. If you want to take that issue off the table, you should start giving 30-day notices. If you're comfortable dealing with the issue if it arises, continue to give your usual seven-day notices.

2. LFUCG Committee Meeting. Mark your calendars for November 14 at 6:00 p.m. That's when the LFUCG Social Services and Public Safety Committee will hear public comment on the Section 8 proposal. Make sure you attend and are ready to tell the Committee about your thoughts and experience with the Section 8 program. Do not worry about repeating what someone else has already said. Those validated and corroborated stories matter.

That's it for today. If you need help with anything, be sure to reach out to your friendly neighborhood attorney. I'm at Happy Halloween and have a fantastic week.

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