Facing an Eviction After Supreme Court Decision? Here Are Your Options

The US Supreme Court blocked the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from enforcing the latest federal eviction moratorium on the nation's renters. This move marks a defeat for the administration of President Joe Biden as they try to continue the moratorium amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Details of Eviction Moratorium

Congress had imposed a federal eviction moratorium in the early days of the pandemic as part of the sweeping CARES legislation. However, this moratorium expired on July 24, 2020. On September 4 of that year, the CDC issued the Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions To Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, lasting through the end of 2020. This order was eventually extended until July 31, 2021.

Shortly after the expiration, the CDC stepped in once again, ordering a new eviction moratorium effective on August 3, 2021. While this order only covered areas designated as having substantial and high transmission, this affects the great majority of the nation.

Supreme Court Decision

The current moratorium was scheduled to expire in early October before the Supreme Court stepped in with a decision late Thursday. The case was brought by a group of landlords arguing that Congress never gave the CDC the power to impose such a moratorium. The group said the industry has been losing as much as $19 billion per month.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the group of landlords agreeing that Congress had not authorized the CDC to take this action. Instead, the majority opinion said that the CDC overstepped its bounds in issuing the moratorium.

The dissenting opinion by the court's three liberal justices pointed out that Congress had appropriated over $46.5 billion to help to make up the difference. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the lapse of the moratorium will cause "irreparable harm" during a time when COVID-19 cases are spiking.

Consequences of Ruling

Critics of this week's court decision point to a recent analysis by The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. According to this data, over 11 million Americans are behind on their rent. In addition, almost 25% of all Black renters are behind.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki expressed her displeasure with the ruling during Friday's media conference, saying that it will only worsen the pandemic when these renters have no place to go.

Options for Renters Facing Eviction

The good news is that there are options if you are facing eviction. As the dissenting judges pointed out, Congress has allocated over $45 billion for rental assistance. Only a small portion of this funding has been spent. If you have not already applied for this assistance, now is the time to do so. If you are approved for the financial relief, you may qualify for up to 18 months of your rent covered.

Even if you do not receive the funding, the application process can help you to stay in your home for longer to buy some additional time. Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Oregon are all temporarily halting evictions against renters who have a pending application for this assistance. In addition, Minnesota lawmakers recently voted to prohibit the eviction of any renters who are in the process of trying to obtain rental assistance. This protection goes until June 2022.

Local Eviction Moratoriums

There are also several states and cities that have their own local eviction moratoriums. For example, New Jersey renters cannot be evicted until January while renters in California are guarded against eviction until October.

Many states, such as Connecticut, Maryland, and Washington state, are offering the right to counsel for tenants that are facing eviction during this time.

There are also a number of low-cost legal options available to renters who need to know their options. As always, familiarizing yourself with your legal options will help you to make the best decision for your personal situation.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there are options available to you if you are facing an eviction. While the federal protection may no longer be in place from the CDC, it is always a good idea to empower yourself with the information that you need to make an informed decision.

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