It looks like the Centers for Disease Control will extend its residential eviction ban, which is currently set to expire this month. The moratorium was already extended once -- from January to March -- when President Biden took office.
"Although the current order expires on the 31st of March, the CDC is likely to extend it again," said Peter Zinkovetsky, a real estate attorney at Zinkovetsky Law Firm.
Though nothing is set in stone yet, the CDC did file a proposal with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on March 18, titled "Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19."
The measure is currently pending review with the OMB.
Extending the eviction ban
If the CDC's order is indeed extended, it could have serious repercussions for landlords, who are already struggling after a full year of minimal rent payments.
An analysis from Moody's Analytics shows about 18% of renter households are behind on their rent. Rental assistance programs technically exist to help, but even those are having trouble. According to recent reports, the Texas Rent Relief program has issued just three payments since opening over a month ago.
The result of all these challenges has been a mixed bag. Some landlords have ignored the ban and evicted nonpaying tenants anyway while others have moved to litigation. A group of landlords in Texas recently won a lawsuit challenging the ban's constitutionality. The Department of Justice has since appealed the decision.
Other landlords are simply struggling, like Stephanie Graves in Houston. She was forced to replace a $22,000 water heater on one of her multifamily complexes earlier this year. And rent payments? Those have been scarce.
"I have a small property in town," she told NPR last week. "It's about 22 units, and eight residents have not been able to pay over six months, on and off."
The same or different?
Despite these landlord-facing impacts, the CDC's ban hasn't been as effective as intended. According to a recent report from the Government Accessibility Office (GAO), eviction filings are down just 36% since the CDC's ban was enacted last September.
Under the CARES Act eviction moratorium? They dropped nearly 75%.
The report calls for the CDC to increase communication and outreach regarding the ban, claiming few renters know about the measure -- or how to properly apply for and leverage it. As the GAO put it, the CDC "should develop and implement a communication and outreach plan designed to ensure that eligible renters and property owners are aware of and able to use the agency's moratorium to prevent eviction."
This raises the question: If the CDC's proposal goes through, will the ban just be expanded, or will it come with strategic changes or additions, too? If it's the latter -- and more renters become aware of the protections (or how to apply for them), landlords will need to brace for even deeper financial impacts in the months to come.
The bottom line
Things are up in the air at the moment, but with the CDC's proposal currently in review, we should have word on the eviction ban's status within days.
In the meantime, if you're dealing with nonpaying tenants, try these three options to get by.