CDC Imposes New Eviction Ban

A new moratorium ends Oct. 3—unless it falls to a court challenge first.

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The Centers for Disease Control imposed a new eviction moratorium late Tuesday, just days after the old one expired.

Key Takeaways

  • A new eviction ban from the Centers for Disease Control protects tenants in areas with “substantial” or “high” spread of COVID-19, an estimated 90% of all renters.
  • Tenants must fill out a declaration of financial hardship to claim protection from the moratorium, which lasts through Oct. 3. 
  • The new eviction ban is expected to face legal challenges, but President Joe Biden said he hopes it will at least buy time for renters to take advantage of a massive federal rent relief program.

The new moratorium lasts through Oct. 3, and forbids property owners from removing tenants for nonpayment of rent. Unlike the one that expired Saturday, which covered the entire country, the new eviction ban applies only to counties experiencing “substantial” to “high” rates of COVID-19 transmission, which can be checked on a CDC website. Like the old order, tenants must sign a declaration that they’re experiencing financial hardship in order to claim protection. A recent surge in COVID-19 cases, which would likely be exacerbated by mass evictions, made a new ban necessary, the CDC said.

The new order is expected to face legal obstacles. The previous CDC order against evictions was challenged by the Alabama Association of Realtors and other property groups, who took it all the way to the Supreme Court. The court upheld the ban but Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that it would be up to Congress to extend it past its July 31 expiration date. Democratic lawmakers failed in a bid to extend the deadline after a last-minute request from the Biden administration, so the White House asked the CDC to do it instead, despite the possibility it would not survive legal objections. 

“At a minimum, by the time it gets litigated, it will probably give some additional time” to distribute aid to struggling renters from the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, President Joe Biden said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

About $47 billion has been distributed to states and local programs to pay rent and utility bills for financially distressed renters, but only $3 billion had been given out by the end of June, thanks to bureaucratic tie-ups

About 3.6 million adults believed themselves to be at risk of eviction over the next two months as of early July, according to the most recent poll from the Census Bureau. The National Low Income Housing Coalition, a housing advocacy group, welcomed the new moratorium, estimating it would cover 90% of all renters.

Given the inevitable legal challenges of the moratorium, government officials and housing advocates urged state and local rent relief programs to speed the distribution of the emergency rental assistance authorized by the ERA program. The Treasury Department, which distributed the money to the states, said Wednesday that local programs should eliminate unnecessary paperwork requirements that have slowed down the process of getting the money to renters.

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