Eviction Ban Extended 3 Months, But Loopholes Remain
A nationwide ban on evictions was extended Monday for another three months, impacting millions who are behind on their rent just two days before it was set to expire.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended the ban, previously set to lapse March 31, through June 30. The agency didn’t, however, broaden the order to make it automatic or apply to all stages of evictions, as some lawmakers and housing advocates had lobbied for.
- The CDC extended its ban on evictions for another three months, through June 30.
- The continued protection potentially impacts millions of struggling renters who owe back rent because of the financial hardships caused by COVID-19.
- The CDC stopped short of making the ban apply automatically or to all stages of eviction proceedings, as housing advocates had requested, but regulators vowed to make enforcement a priority.
Aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, the moratorium was first put in place in September to prevent struggling renters hit by the economic downturn from being forced out of their homes and into crowded settings such as homeless shelters. The extension potentially protects as many as 8.37 million adults who the Census Bureau estimates to be overdue on their rent, including more than 4 million who were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to be evicted within the next two months, according to recent survey results.
While federal funding currently rolling out to states around the country can help some pay overdue rent as well as utility bills, extending the moratorium buys time for that funding to be distributed, housing advocates say. Renters seeking protection under the moratorium still have to pay their landlords any back rent they may owe.
A recent study by the Government Accountability Office, a government watchdog, determined the ban would have been more effective had more people been told about it, and housing advocates have been pushing for it to be tougher for landlords to get around, particularly now that there’s a new president in office. Namely, they’ve called for the ban to be universally applied, better enforced, and relevant to any early-stage eviction proceedings that could be used to scare tenants into leaving.
But to qualify for protection from eviction, tenants must still give a signed statement to their landlord declaring that they’ve lost substantial income and that they would likely become homeless or otherwise have to share close quarters if evicted. In addition, while prohibiting physical evictions, the order still allows landlords to file evictions in court.
“While the Biden administration is well aware of the shortcomings in the moratorium order that allow some evictions to proceed during the pandemic, the CDC director did not correct them,” National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) CEO Diane Yentel said in a statement following the extension. “It is not too late to act further. The Biden administration must strengthen the order and close the loopholes that some landlords have exploited to continue evicting renters from their homes.”
However, the government did signal that more enforcement of the eviction moratorium would be forthcoming. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday said they would be monitoring and investigating eviction practices, particularly those of major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms.
“We will not tolerate illegal practices that displace families and expose them—and by extension all of us—to grave health risks,” CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio and FTC Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter said in a joint statement.
Evicting or threatening to evict without apprising people of their legal rights under the moratorium (or other local bans) may be a violation of various prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices, the regulators said.