The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eviction ban is back from the dead. Just three days after its official expiration date, the much-disputed eviction moratorium is on again -- this time banning evictions until at least Oct. 3 of this year.
The news is significant. Back in June, the Supreme Court said the CDC had no legal grounds to extend the ban further -- at least without word from Congress. And Congress? They failed to pass an extension just last week.
Legal or not, the CDC says the move was a necessary one -- especially with the new COVID-19 delta variant spreading quickly through the nation.
“Without this order, there is every reason to expect that evictions will increase dramatically at a time when COVID-19 infections in the United States are increasing sharply,” the agency wrote in the order. “It is imperative that public health authorities act quickly to mitigate such an increase of evictions, which could increase the likelihood of new spikes in SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”
Are you dealing with nonpaying tenants? Did you already file an eviction while the ban had lapsed? Here’s what you need to know about this latest ban.
Is the moratorium the same as last time?
The CDC’s eviction moratorium is similar to the previous one, but this time, it’s a bit more targeted. Instead of being a blanket ban on all evictions, it only protects tenants in counties with either “substantial” or “high” levels of community COVID transmission. You can view the transmission spread levels for your county here.
As of now, the majority of U.S. counties fall into one of these two categories. If a county doesn’t yet but community transmission rises later on, the ban will extend to cover it. If the opposite happens -- a county sees transmission levels fall under the high or substantial threshold for 14 days consecutively -- the ban no longer applies.
If you’re in one of these protected counties, your tenants will need to sign and submit a declaration form in order to be exempt from eviction. The ban will last until Oct. 3, 2021, unless otherwise extended.
Another important note: If you were one of the few landlords who filed for eviction from Aug. 1 through 3, before the new ban was enacted, the eviction can’t proceed if you’re in one of these covered counties.
Will it stand up to legal challenges?
The last ban was no stranger to litigation. Countless groups of landlords, Realtors, and property managers sued the CDC, and in many cases, the ban was actually struck down. Eventually, it went to the Supreme Court, and while five justices allowed the ban to continue, according to a written opinion from Brett Kavanaugh, it was merely due to timing.
“Because the CDC plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds, I vote at this time to deny the application to vacate the District Court's stay of its order,” Kavanaugh wrote at the time.
Beyond that, Kavanaugh said that the CDC exceeded its authority in issuing an eviction moratorium and that, in his view, “clear and specific congressional authorization -- via new legislation -- would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31."
Considering the CDC did not receive that congressional authorization, more legal challenges are probably coming -- and quite swiftly, too.
“After five members of the Supreme Court concluded that the existing eviction moratorium had no legal foundation -- and Congress refused to grant the agency authority to impose a new order -- the CDC has now claimed to discover new authority to act,” said Caleb Kruckenberg, litigation counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonprofit civil rights group. “This is not how government should work, much less how laws are written. If the CDC pushes forward, the courts must swiftly shut down the agency’s lawless actions.”
The bottom line
As with the last CDC eviction ban, it’s another wait-and-see game. There will likely be stiff opposition (the National Association of Home Builders has already come out against it), and Realtor and landlord groups will no doubt continue their mission to strike it down. For now, though, the ban stands.
If you’re one of the many landlords who is struggling due to nonpaying tenants, file for emergency rental assistance on your tenant’s behalf as soon as possible. The White House is urging municipalities to process and disburse funds quickly for those who need it.