Federal Appeals Court Lets Eviction Moratorium Stand

Landlords vowed to fight on with an emergency motion to the Supreme Court

Man finds eviction notice on door

Siraj Ahmad/Getty Images

The battle over the latest coronavirus-related moratorium on evictions appears to be headed to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court on Friday allowed the temporary ban imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remain in place.

Key Takeaways

  • A federal appeals court rejected a bid by realty and property groups to end the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium.
  • This likely means the battle over the eviction ban is headed to the Supreme Court.
  • In June, when the moratorium was due to expire July 31, the Supreme Court allowed the previous moratorium to run its course, but made clear it believed the moratorium was illegal.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declined an emergency request by the Alabama Association of Realtors and other property groups to lift the CDC’s moratorium, which was put in place for two months on Aug. 3 in areas with heightened levels of COVID-19 transmission. As of Friday, more than 87% of the country fell into the CDC’s “high transmission” category.

The realty groups filed their appeal after D.C. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich declined last week to stop the latest moratorium from being enforced. Friedrich said she would have done so, but that her “hands were tied” because the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote in late June, had declined to end the previous, nationwide moratorium, which then was due to expire on July 31. 

In its ruling, the nation’s highest court had made clear it questioned the CDC’s authority to continue extending the moratorium, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing, “In my view, clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31.”

The previous CDC eviction ban was put in place by the Trump administration in September through the end of 2020, aiming to keep people in their homes as the virus spread. Congress extended it through January, and President Joe Biden extended it further when he took office. CDC crafted the latest iteration imposed in early August.

Friday’s decision by the appeals court is likely to bring the case back to the Supreme Court.

“We are disappointed in today’s ruling, but the plaintiffs will continue fighting on behalf of America’s mom-and-pop housing providers and plan to file an emergency motion to the Supreme Court immediately,” the National Association of Realtors said in an emailed statement. “With a majority of the Supreme Court in agreement that any further extension of this eviction moratorium requires congressional authorization, we are confident and hopeful for a quick resolution.” 

According to data collected June 23-July 5 from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, more than 4.6 million people said they were at risk of eviction or foreclosure in the next two months.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “COVID Data Tracker: COVID-19 Integrated County View.”

  2. U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. “Order.”

  3. National Housing Law Project. “Federal Moratorium On Evictions For Nonpayment Of Rent.”

  4. Census Bureau. “Housing Pulse Survey: Likelihood of Eviction or Foreclosure.”

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