Last week, the Supreme Court overturned the eviction moratorium in a 6-3 decision, citing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) lack of legal authority. According to the court, Congress, not the CDC, needs to act to extend the eviction moratorium.
“Congress was on notice that a further extension would almost surely require new legislation, yet it failed to act in the several weeks leading up to the moratorium’s expiration.” The eight-page ruling concluded that if the ban is to continue, it’s Congress that must authorize it.
Why the eviction moratorium was put in place
Last September, the CDC initially put the eviction moratorium in place as a public health measure. According to the CDC, evictions can increase the spread of COVID-19 by forcing people into shared living situations. Some may even have to relocate to other states.
The ban was set to expire at the end of July, but on Aug. 3, the CDC issued a new eviction ban for areas with elevated COVID infection rates. The eviction moratorium was supposed to last until Oct. 3, and was immediately challenged by landlords and real estate groups. That led to the Supreme Court’s ruling last week.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the ruling, calling it “arbitrary and cruel.” She said the House is currently considering “possible legislative remedies.” However, Speaker Pelosi did not say that Congress would return early from its recess to pass new legislation.
What does this mean for renters and landlords?
According to a new report from Goldman Sachs, roughly 750,000 households could face eviction this year. Between 2.5 and 3.5 million households are behind on their rent, owing landlords between $12 billion and $17 billion.
Eviction filings will begin to increase, but the process could take months to complete due to the large backlog. And states like New Jersey, Illinois, New York, and Washington all have policies in place to protect renters. That means landlords and property owners won’t see the immediate financial relief they’re hoping for.
Following the Supreme Court ruling, the National Apartment Association (NAA) released the following statement, “Though the moratorium is lifted, it is important to remember that billions in debt remain on renters’ records and housing providers’ shoulders – it’s past time to focus on the most sustainable path forward of full rental assistance funding and streamlined distribution.”
The federal government did allocate $45.6 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, but state governments have only distributed around $5 billion to landlords and renters. The application process is challenging, and states have been slow to disperse any aid.
What should you do if you’re facing eviction?
If you’re currently facing eviction, here are two steps you can take immediately:
- Try to negotiate with your landlord: The first place to start is by trying to work with your landlord. They may be willing to temporarily reduce your monthly rent or spread out your payments over several months.
- Seek emergency housing: Check out the HUD’s state-by-state list of emergency housing assistance. Once you select your state from the drop-down menu, you’ll see a list of services in your area that can help.
And both renters and landlords should apply for emergency federal assistance. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program has billions of dollars in federal aid available, but the application process has been frustrating for renters and landlords alike. For help, check out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) list of available resources on how to apply and meet the eligibility requirements.