On March 25, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included a moratorium on the eviction of tenants that receive federal funding or have federally-backed mortgages, in response to the novel COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act prevented evictions until July 2020.
On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a temporary national moratorium on most evictions for nonpayment of rent to reduce the virus’ spread. The eviction moratorium took effect three days later and was initially planned to expire on December 31, 2020. Congress then extended the moratorium through January 2021, and President Biden extended it through March, June, and July.
On August 3, 2021, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed an “order determining the evictions of tenants for failure to make rent or housing payments could be detrimental to public health control measures to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.“ It was due to expire on October 3, 2021, and applied to counties nationwide experiencing substantial levels of COVID-19 transmission.
In an official statement, Dr. Walensky explained the decision as follows:
“The emergence of the delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated.This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads. 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. Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse.”
According to the National Housing Law Project and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the new eviction moratorium was intended to “provide immediate relief for the 6.5 million renter households who [were] behind on their rent and who were at an increased risk of eviction when the previous federal eviction moratorium expired on July 31.”
The federal eviction moratorium did not stop all eviction. Specifically, tenants could still be evicted for:
The eviction moratorium only prevented evictions due to nonpayment of rent or late fees.
The eviction moratorium ended on August 26, 2021 after the Supreme Court rejected the application for emergency relief, stating that the CDC had exceeded its authority. In order to pass another eviction moratorium, Congress would have to act.
However, on a state level, some lawmakers elected to put their own eviction moratoriums in place. New York and California both enacted eviction moratoriums alongside additional renter protections. As of September 23, 2022, there are still counties in which active eviction moratoriums for nonpayment of rent are upheld.
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