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THE MORATORIUM FIGHT CONTINUES

EVICTION MORATORIUM NEWS

Various eviction moratoriums have been at the forefront of the news for over a year now as Covid-19 affected the economy, causing thousands to lose income or ultimately, their jobs.  

While the economy may be bouncing back in some sectors and jobs have become more available, financial assistance for renters has been slow to reach the tenants at risk and their landlords, leaving countless families with impending non-payment proceedings or worse, evictions.  

The CDC’s attempts to continue the months-long eviction moratorium, citing Covid risks to the general public, came to a close on August 26, 2021, when the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest halt to evictions.  

In early August, the CDC issued yet another order banning evictions of residential tenants in counties experiencing high levels of community transmission of COVID-19.  Several plaintiffs, including the Alabama Association of Realtors, applied to the high court to challenge the new moratorium, stating that the moratorium exceeded the CDC’s statutory authority.  The Court agreed, warning that further extensions of the moratorium would require “clear and specific congressional authorization.”  The moratorium, as it existed, covered at least 80% of the country and tread on the landlord/tenant relationship, which belongs in the purview of the states, not the federal government.  

The court went on to say that the landlords being prohibited from evicting tenants who have breached their leases, violated the landlord’s most fundamental elements of property ownership and placed them at risk of irreparable harm.  

Set against this backdrop, New York State’s eviction moratorium, which expired on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, is now before the state legislature for a review and likely extension.  Calling an extraordinary session today, September 1, 2021, Governor Kathy C. Hochul called state lawmakers back to Albany to consider extending the statewide moratorium to January 15, 2022. 

Currently, in New York State there are over 830,000 tenants who are behind and rent and could face eviction without protective policies in place.   

$2.7 billion dollars in housing aid has been stalled due to a series of technical glitches and a complicated application process that many don’t know exists.  So far, statewide, only 7% of the total money allocated to prevent homelessness has been distributed.  

Landlord advocates say that a further moratorium is not solving any problems, but merely delaying problems.  They also vow to challenge any further moratorium the state tries to implement.  Citing a lack of awareness of available programs, landlord and tenant advocates do agree that fixing the system of aid distribution is of paramount concern.  

On her first day in office, Governor Hochul vowed to expedite the distribution of rent relief funds and to iron out the ongoing kinks in the process and ordered the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to spend an additional $1 million in marketing and outreach efforts to raise awareness for the program.  

Research by Goldman Sachs concluded the end of the eviction moratorium is likely to result in a sharp and rapid increase in eviction rates in the coming months unless Congress acts quickly to address this nationwide crisis. 

One small landlord located in New Jersey was interviewed and stated “I have a two-family non-owner occupied property so there is no funding available in my situation.”  “They made it way too easy and they keep changing the rules and they keep becoming laxer and laxer as the time goes on,” he said.  

Landlords like this one are in dire financial straits, many being forced to put their own mortgage loans in forbearance in order to get by, meanwhile, tenants are not paying any rent and some have not yet applied for relief.   According to  Goldman’s analysis, an additional 1 to 2 million households could be jeopardized as state protections expire.  

Goldman concluded that the strength of the housing and rental market suggests that landlords will be anxious to evict delinquent tenants without federal assistance.  Without legislation, rent prices can be expected to increase as restrictions end and housing demands continue to spike.   

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