Judge Allows Eviction Pause To Continue, Pending Appeal

A woman making coffee in the strong morning sunshine in her apartment.

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The nationwide pause on renter evictions remains in effect after the federal judge who had overturned the pandemic-era provision said it should stay in place while the court system sorts out its legality.

Judge Dabney Friedrich’s latest ruling, issued Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, allows the temporary ban to continue, for now, because the Department of Justice appealed her original May 5 ruling invalidating it. The moratorium, which was introduced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September, prevents landlords from physically removing tenants from their homes, even if they are past due on rent, if the pandemic has caused financial hardship.

Friedrich said although she still doesn’t believe the CDC had the authority to issue the order, she was granting an emergency “stay” of her decision while the appeal is ongoing, conceding that for the time being the health consequences of removing the order outweighed the financial hardship to landlords. The CDC deferred comment on Friday’s ruling to the Department of Justice, which did not immediately respond.

The federal case pits landlords and realtors—who say the eviction freeze makes it harder for property owners to collect rent from tenants and pay their own bills—against housing advocates working to make sure people don’t lose their homes because of the pandemic. Landlords around the country stand to lose $200 billion annually from the CDC order, even though the pause itself doesn’t excuse tenants from paying rent, according to the collection of landlords and realtor trade groups who initiated the court case.  

As of late April, 15% of adult renters in the U.S.—10.7 million people—were behind on their rent, according to an estimate by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank.

The CDC has said the ban could prevent thousands of virus cases. The freeze has been extended several times since it was first put in place, most recently until June 30.

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