Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

Supreme Court Holds in Favor of Housing Providers

On August 26, 2021, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling, vacated the stay on the D.C. District Court decision, which held the eviction moratorium exceeds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) authority, ruling in favor of the Alabama and Georgia Associations of REALTORS®, two housing providers, and their property management companies (the plaintiffs). Housing providers should still proceed carefully with eviction proceedings, as state courts may not be processing these actions right away, and in some areas, state and local moratoria remain in place.

In the ruling, the Supreme Court held that specific Congressional authorization was necessary for a federal eviction moratorium to continue. The CDC relied on §361(a) of the Public Health Services Act for authority to promulgate and extend the eviction moratorium, which the Supreme Court rejected as a “stretch” and that Congress would have specified authorizing an agency to “exercise powers of [such] ‘vast ‘economic and political significance.” The Justices wrote, “It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of the COVID–19 Delta variant. But our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends.”

Prior to the Supreme Court order, on August 3, 2021, the CDC issued a fourth extension of the eviction moratorium, effective through October 3, 2021, after the previous moratorium expired on July 31, 2021.With NAR’s support, the plaintiffs, who originally filed a lawsuit against the CDC in November 2020 on behalf of housing providers nationwide, again challenged the latest extension of the eviction moratorium that eventually resulted in the Supreme Court’s August 26 ruling effectively ending that latest extension. In May of this year, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich for the District of Columbia had struck down the ban as unlawful, but she stayed her ruling pending appeal. The case wound up twice before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

NAR continues to support the Administration’s efforts to improve the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and to ensure that the available relief for tenants and housing providers is disbursed as efficiently as possible.

Read NAR’s statement on the ruling, background on the litigation, and access NAR’s rental assistance resources.

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