CDC extends eviction moratorium through July
By Erin K. Stackey, National Association of REALTORS Senior Policy Representative, Commercial Issues
On June 24, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) extended its federal eviction moratorium, previously set to expire on June 30, through July 31, 2021. The agency stated in its announcement that this latest extension of the moratorium, which has been in place since September 2020 under the CDC's powers during a public health emergency, is intended to be the last. The eviction moratorium prevents housing providers from evicting tenants who are unable to pay all or some of their rent due to loss of income or medical expenses, have attempted to obtain rental assistance, earned no more than $99k ($198k for joint filers) in 2020 or does not expect to earn more than that in 2021, is making "best efforts" to make timely partial payments, and eviction would likely render them homeless or force them into a shared living setting.
Following the announcement, the White House released a fact sheet on "Initiatives to Promote Housing Stability by Supporting Vulnerable Tenants and Preventing Foreclosures." It outlines plans by the Administration to coordinate across federal agencies and the state, local, and national governments to provide resources for tenants and housing providers to access rental assistance funds and programs, develop plans for anti-eviction diversion practices to benefit tenants, housing providers, and relieve some of the burden on the court systems, and better communicate the existence of emergency rental assistance program (ERAP) funds and counseling programs to vulnerable tenants and housing providers. These initiatives include:
- Encouraging state and local courts to adopt "anti-eviction diversion practices," to help housing providers and tenants reach agreements and access rental assistance to keep people in their homes while helping to make housing providers whole;
- Highlighting the federal assistance funds for state and local governments, and their range of potential uses (including eviction diversion plans);
- Holding a White House summit for eviction prevention plans, which will include state and local governments as well as various legal groups to coordinate efforts to develop "locally-tailored" solutions to incentivize the use of ERAP funds;
- Accelerating and broadening disbursement ERAP funds by state and local entities;
- Ensure enforcement of the 30-day eviction notice requirement for federally-backed properties (HUD/FHA/USDA, Freddie and Fannie);
- Guidance from HUD to prevent Fair Housing Act violations within the scope of eviction actions against tenants; collaborating with the DOJ to publicize that guidance;
- Cross-coordinate between government agencies and channels to better share information about rental assistance and other programs to help vulnerable tenants and housing providers; and
- Extending the foreclosure moratorium for HUD/VA/USDA backed-mortgages through July 31, as well as the FHFA foreclosure moratorium for Fannie/Freddie backed-mortgages.
The National Association of REALTORS is disappointed by the extension of the CDC moratorium, which no longer serves the purpose it was intended for and is no longer needed on a national level. NAR has been an active leader in a real estate industry coalition devoted to working with Congress and the Administration to find a better solution for tenants and housing providers who have suffered financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was instrumental in securing $46.55 billion in federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program funding to help tenants pay their back-rent and housing providers maintain their income so they can pay their mortgages and maintain their properties. The Georgia and Alabama Associations of REALTORS successfully challenged the CDC eviction moratorium in the DC District Court earlier this year, which vacated the moratorium after finding it exceeds the CDC's powers; however, the Court stayed its ruling while the Department of Justice appeals, so the plaintiffs have requested that the stay be lifted, which is currently under consideration by the Supreme Court of the United States.
In the meantime, NAR will continue to advocate for an end to the eviction moratorium and push for the state and local governments to swiftly and efficiently disburse rental assistance funds to housing providers who are struggling due to lost rent.