A national moratorium on the eviction of tenants had previously been set to expire today, though a 5-4 decision at the nation’s highest court will see the order extended for another month. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined with the court’s three liberal justices to leave the moratorium in place, with Kavanaugh issuing a one-paragraph concurrence detailing his views. “Because the CDC plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for an additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds, I vote at this time to deny the application” that had been filed by real estate firms and trade associations.
Backdrop: The CDC eviction moratorium was put in place under the Trump administration, aiming to shield tenants who missed monthly rent payments from being forced out of their homes during the coronavirus pandemic (they still owe back rent). It was originally set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020, but Congress stretched the order until late January, and it was then extended several more times under the Biden administration. While the CDC last week announced a final, one-month extension through July, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled the moratorium was legally unsupportable, though she stayed her ruling (pending appeal) citing public-health concerns.
While the moratorium has protected millions of tenants, it has also resulted in financial hardships for landlords. Property owners, which say they are losing $13B a month in unpaid rent, are still liable for taxes, insurance and maintenance costs tied to their real estate. They also said the ban on evictions is less justifiable now due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and a high number of vaccinated Americans.
Reactions: “Allowing evictions to proceed when there are tens of billions in resources to prevent them would be wasteful and cruel,” said Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Landlords feel differently. “With the pandemic waning and the economy improving, it is time to restore the housing sector to its healthy, former function,” replied Charlie Oppler, President of the National Association of Realtors.
Statistics: By the end of March, 6.4M American households were behind on their rent, according to data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. On June 7, a Household Pulse Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau also showed that roughly 3.2M people in the U.S. feared an eviction in the next two months.