National eviction moratorium extended again; upheld by Supreme Court

It’s safe to say when housing providers first decided to invest in rental properties, they never expected to have such disdain for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, through the CDC, the Biden Administration extended the national eviction moratorium for a fourth time – this time through July 31, 2021 – although the CDC indicated this would be the final extension to the moratorium.

This is to the relief of many renters and the disdain of many housing providers who are continuing to pay the mortgage on properties that renters are not paying the rent for as a result of the financial burden brought on by the pandemic.

Hundreds of rental assistance and relief programs have been created in the past 15 months. But because of a lot of red tape surrounding the application process for that rental assistance, a large portion of the rent aid has not gone to the people who need it most.

So, the race against the clock is on to get the funds to the people who are truly struggling with paying the rent as a result of the pandemic, but these programs weren’t built to move with such alacrity.

Money is also available for the housing providers, but their acceptance of the relief comes with caveats.

According to the New York Times, the funding pays for as much as a year of unpaid rent and three months of future rent payments for eligible tenants.

Meanwhile, housing providers can also apply for the relief, and although the program doesn’t mandate that they accept the money, those who do take the funds must agree to not evict the qualifying tenant for at least 12 months, with very few exceptions.

While housing providers can start the application process, tenants have to sign an online application, and an application cannot be saved and edited later, which has led to a lot of frustration for renter applicants.

Meanwhile, tenant rights groups had been lobbying for the moratorium to continue because without rental assistance funds being distributed, they feared a wave of evictions would soon follow.

According to the Times that concern, coupled with lagging vaccination rates in certain parts of the country, is what finally convinced the White House to approve the extension.

However, that wave may still be coming next month.

On the other side of the conversation were those fighting for the rights of the property owners, who have been left on the hook for monthly mortgage payments that were being covered by rent pre-pandemic, but they are now left making those payments without the income necessary to pay it.

However, these housing providers suffered a second blow when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the CDC moratorium.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh seemed to cast the deciding vote. According to SCOTUS Blog, although Kavanagh agreed with the plaintiffs that the CDC exceeded its legal authority in issuing the national moratorium, he felt that since it is set to expire in a month and there will be no further extensions, it’s more pragmatic to just let the moratorium run its course at this stage. As such, he sided with Chief Justice John Roberts and justices, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer.

However, like the CDC moratorium, many state and city eviction bans across the country are set to expire during the summer months, which will soon leave many renters in a precarious position.

Many renters have accrued insurmountable debt in the past year and won’t be able to make up the difference.

This could leave them without a roof over their heads. As for the housing providers, without the rent money being paid to them, some  will pull their properties off the market until they can get themselves caught up on their mortgage payments, further jeopardizing the availability of affordable housing for all Americans.

According to the Times, the Biden administration is ramping up its efforts to stem the tide that is coming with likely eviction filings in August. There will be an affordable housing and evictions summit this month at the White House. Guidance will come from the Treasury Department on how to more efficiently and effectively distribute emergency aid to both renters and housing providers that were part of the pandemic relief bill. The Department will also implement better and more regular communication with state and local officials, as well as legal aid organizations, to try and limit evictions once the moratoriums end.

About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
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