CFPB rule gives renters right to sue debt collectors over evictions

WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a rule Monday enabling renters to sue debt collectors who fail to disclose the rights of tenants established in a recent federal eviction moratorium.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the freeze on evictions due to the coronavirus pandemic last year. It prevents evictions in cases where tenants filed a written declaration of their inability to pay. A tenant who has not filed such a declaration can still be evicted. The moratorium ends June 30.

The CFPB’s interim rule requires debt collectors seeking to evict tenants to provide written notice of their rights under the CDC moratorium. The rule also prohibits debt collectors from misrepresenting tenants’ eligibility for protection from eviction.

“No one should be evicted from their home without understanding their rights, and we will hold accountable those debt collectors who move forward with illegal evictions,” said acting CFPB director Dave Uejio in a press release. “We encourage debt collectors to work with tenants and landlords to find solutions that work for everyone.”

The CFPB rule clarifies that debt collectors who fail to provide tenants written notice of their rights under the CDC moratorium are in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The rule, which will be effective May 3, applies to third-party debt collectors and attorneys acting on behalf of landlords.

On a call with reporters, a senior advisor to Uejio said that there are “probably thousands” of tenants who have been evicted but would have been able to stay in their homes under the CDC moratorium.

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