The Biden administration Thursday extended the federal ban on evictions for a fourth and likely final time, pushing a moratorium set to sunset at the end of the month until July 31.
Landlord groups like the National Multifamily Housing Council criticized the extension, calling the move “out of step with the significant progress made in controlling Covid-19 and restoring the economy.” The National Apartment Association said “flawed eviction moratoriums” have left renters with insurmountable debt for which housing providers are now responsible.
“There’s definitely a sentiment that we have to be coming to an end of this COVID situation and I think there is a mounting hope that [landlords] are going to be able to seek some recourse.” said Rosenberg & Estis attorney Luise Barrack. “Not necessarily to evict, but to collect rent.”
Last week, 12 real estate groups, including NMHC and NAA, co-signed a letter addressed to President Biden, imploring the administration to allow the moratorium to expire. In the letter, the groups committed to helping ease the transition away from a nationwide moratorium by offering rent repayment arrangements, deferments, and extended or flexible lease periods, among other aids, to tenants.
The following week, the NMHC issued a set of principles for how to work with residents as the federal moratorium is set to expire, one of which recommended giving notice at least 30 days before filing an eviction.
In states that have enacted their own bans on evictions, local rules trump federal legislation. Yet only 14 states plus the District of Columbia still have such bans in place and over half are set to expire this month, according to a list compiled by attorney Ann O’Connell for legal site Nolo.
Connecticut is one of them. Landlord lawyer Mark Sank says that each time the state has approached the end of the eviction moratorium his office phone has lit up with calls from landlords asking if they can move forward with evictions.
Sank said that while the CDC’s moratorium prevents courts from ruling on an eviction filing, it doesn’t stop landlords from filing one before the moratorium is up.
“I will get flooded with calls around June 30 about whether or not they can start a new eviction,” he said, adding that some states have interpreted the federal ban as able to stop an eviction proceeding in its tracks.
In New York, real estate attorneys say property owners are much more concerned with the state ban, which keeps tenants out of housing court until September 1.
“It’s not even a blip on their radar, this [federal] extension,” said Martin Meltzer, partner at Belkin Burden Goldman LLP.