A federal judge rejected a request from housing groups on Friday to block the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest eviction moratorium, but the legal fights are far from over.
Led by the Alabama and Georgia associations of REALTORS®, with the National Association of REALTORS®’ support, the plaintiffs are expected to take their case back to appeals court, arguing that the government has overextended its legal authority with a nationwide eviction moratorium that has put housing providers at financial risk.
The recent motion made by housing groups called for the courts to immediately end the eviction ban but received a setback on Friday when U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Dabney Friedrich denied the request. But upon a closer look at her ruling, the denial was “on technical, procedural grounds, but the court confirmed its opinion that the CDC is unlikely to succeed on the merits,” NAR said in a statement. “In the ruling, the Judge said her hands are ‘tied’ by a prior D.C. Circuit Court decision that came down before a majority of the Supreme Court made its views known about the unlawfulness of the moratorium. We are confident in our position that this unlawful eviction ban will soon come to an end.”
In previous court rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court has warned that the moratorium was on legally shaky ground and could not be extended without congressional authorization with new legislation. Lawmakers attempted a last-minute request on July 30 to try to extend the nationwide eviction moratorium before the original expired on July 31 but failed to gain enough traction, resulting in the ban expiring. However, the CDC immediately issued a new order that runs until Oct. 3.
The CDC’s Latest Ban
The CDC’s latest eviction moratorium was met with controversy as soon as it was introduced. Housing providers argue they’ve faced more than a year of unpaid rent. They’ve blamed moratoriums, which the CDC first put in place last September, for costing them more than $13 billion per month in unpaid rent.
The CDC’s current moratorium applies only to areas with high COVID-19 transmission. But that still covers about 90% of renters in the country, and coverage could increase to 100% with higher rates of infection.
Soon after the new moratorium was announced, the Alabama and Georgia state REALTOR® associations, along with two housing providers and their property management companies, filed an emergency motion in federal court to block enforcement of the extension. Read more about the legal challenges in NAR’s Washington Report.
Rental Assistance Still Available
As lawsuits loom, NAR is urging swifter distribution of the $45 billion in rental assistance, which is available in every state. So far, only about $4.2 billion has been allocated, according to a recent analysis by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has debuted a new tool to apply for rental assistance.
“About half of all housing providers are mom-and-pop operators, and without rental income, they cannot pay their own bills or maintain their properties,” NAR President Charlie Oppler said in a statement in early August. “NAR has always advocated that the best solution for all parties is rental assistance paid directly to housing providers to cover the rent and utilities of any vulnerable tenants during the pandemic. No housing provider wants to evict a tenant and considers it only as a last resort.”
For additional updates, visit nar.realtor/rental-assistance.