Supreme Court Clears Landlords to Resume Evictions

Realtors were victorious against the CDC ban on evictions for rent nonpayment

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The Supreme Court struck down the federal eviction ban Thursday, removing a protection for an estimated 3.5 million renters who believe they are at risk of losing their homes soon.

Key Takeaways

  • The Supreme Court struck down the Centers for Disease Control’s eviction ban in a 6-3 decision Thursday.
  • The verdict removes a layer of legal protection for an estimated 3.5 million renters who believe they’re likely to be evicted in the next two months, a recent Census survey said.
  • A federal program that pays rent on behalf of financially struggling tenants is still available to renters and landlords.

The high court ruled in a 6-3 decision that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had overstepped its authority when it ordered that landlords in counties with substantial COVID-19 spread could not remove tenants from their homes for nonpayment of rent if they signed a declaration that they were suffering financial hardship. The verdict was a victory for realtors and property owners who have waged a legal battle to let evictions resume.

The latest moratorium—a replacement for a similar ban that lasted from September through July 31—lasted only 23 days. The old CDC ban prevented 1.55 million eviction proceedings from being filed in court, according to an estimate last week by the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. Three and a half million adults behind on their rent consider themselves at least somewhat likely to be evicted over the next two months, according to a Census Bureau survey taken between Aug. 4 and Aug. 16.

“The federal eviction moratorium was a lifeline for millions of families, the last remaining federal protection keeping many safely and stably housed during the pandemic,” The National Low Income Housing Coalition, a housing advocacy group, said in a statement Thursday. “The tragic, consequential, and entirely avoidable outcome of this ruling could be millions of people losing their homes this fall and winter, just as the delta variant ravages communities and lives.”

Other anti-eviction measures besides the nationwide ban remain in place. Tenants and landlords can still sign up for a federal Emergency Rental Assistance program that pays back rent and utility bills, though local agencies in charge of distributing the money have been slowed by red tape. In addition, some states, cities, and local governments have imposed their own eviction restrictions. 

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Diccon at dhyatt@thebalance.com.


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Sources
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  1. Census Bureau. “Week 35 Household Pulse Survey: August 4 – August 16.”

  2. Supreme Court. “Alabama Association Of Realtors, Et Al. V. Department Of Health And Human Services, Et Al. On Application To Vacate Stay.”

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Temporary Halt of Evictions in Residential Communities With Substantial or High Levels of Community Transmission of COVID-19 to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19.”

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