Eviction Moratorium: A Look Back and What is Next

On August 3, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( the “CDC”) extended the moratorium on evictions throughout the country through October 3, 2021. This moratorium was first put in place in September of 2020, and was meant originally to last until December 31, 2020. However, as new variants of the virus have continued to wreak havoc across the world, the moratorium has been extended multiple times, and was finally set to expire July 31, 2021. This federal moratorium was meant to minimize the spread of covid by suspending evictions, specifically with the goal of minimizing homelessness and interstate movement based on evictions. Researchers estimated this federal moratorium provided relief to over a quarter of the nation’s 43 million renters. This moratorium only applies to renters who either (1) earned less than $99,000 a year, or $198,000 a year if filing jointly, (2) received a stimulus check or (3) would be homeless if evicted. This moratorium does not, however, preclude every type of eviction. Specifically, the federal order does not protect tenants who engage in criminal activity on the premises, threaten the health or safety of other residents, damage or pose a significant risk of property damage, those violating of health or building codes, and those violating of contractual obligations other than rent.

Since the original moratorium has been in place, 43 states have also instituted their own state-based eviction moratoria on a state or local leval. The data from these states in comparison to states that did not institute additional moratoria show a significant decrease in infections. Specifically, analysis from states where eviction moratoria were lifted shows a significant increase in COVID-19 infections in people who were evicted. After accounting for time-varying indicators, such as stay-at-home orders, school closures and mask mandates, analysis shows that incidences of Covid in states that lifted their moratoria was 1.6 times that of states that did not, and that grew to 2.1 times more than states that did not lift the moratoria.

However, this moratorium was been challenged in the courts by a coalition of landlords and real estate groups in Alabama and Georgia. The group argued that the CDC does not have the amount of power necessary to continue with the moratorium. At the end of July, the Supreme Court indicated that they likely would side with these landlords, as the justices, on a very narrow vote, left a previous version of the moratorium in place when it was supposed to expire at the end of July. With the deciding vote, Justice Kavanaugh decided to keep parts of the moratorium in place, however, he noted that the CDC had likely exceeded its existing statutory authority in issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium. Rather, he noted, that “clear and specific congressional authority (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31”.

As you may be aware, the Supreme Court ruled on this decision on August 26, 2021, following the lead of Justice Kavanaugh and ruling to overturn the federal eviction moratorium. At this time, only state and local eviction moratoriums are still in place, leaving millions of people at risk of eviction. As of the date of this publication, the only states with mandated eviction moratoriums still in place are: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Washington, and Washington DC.

If you or your clients are concerned about the effect this change may bring, make sure to review local emergency rental assistant (ERA) programs at https://nlihc.org/rental-assistance. For legal questions specific to your situation, please reach out to our experienced attorneys at taylordaylaw.com/contact.  

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