Dear Mr. President: Landlords urge Biden to let eviction ban expire

Federal moratorium set to end June 30; but tenant advocates maintain wave of evictions will follow

President Joe Biden (Getty/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)
President Joe Biden (Getty/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

Throughout the pandemic, landlords and real estate trade groups have filed lawsuits seeking to end the federal eviction ban. So far, none has succeeded.

Now, with the moratorium set to end on June 30, property owners are asking the Biden administration not to issue another extension.

Twelve organizations representing landlords, brokers and developers sent a letter to President Biden on Friday, asking him to let the “one-size-fits-all” eviction policy run its course.

The group, which includes the National Multifamily Housing Council, the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders, cited the increase in vaccine distribution, along with other Covid mitigation measures the administration has taken — such as providing financial assistance to renters — as among the reasons the moratorium was no longer necessary.

The ban will only “place insurmountable levels of debt on renter households and prevent recovery in the housing sector,” according to the three-page letter sent Friday.

Since the start of the pandemic, the federal government has deployed nearly $47 billion to help renters, landlords and homeowners cover those debts. Tenant advocates say renters are still struggling to pay their bills, and predict a wave of evictions when the ban expires.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the nationwide moratorium just before it was about to end in late March. Last week, CDC director Rochelle Walensky would not say whether the agency would issue another extension, according to Reuters.

The June 11 letter from landlord groups is the first time they have made their plea directly to Biden. Meanwhile, the CDC’s late-March eviction moratorium extension came two weeks after a letter sent by 2,200 tenant advocate organizations and others that urged Biden to prolong the ban.

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As Covid case rates have dropped in the U.S., courts have been more willing to side with landlord challenges to the moratorium. Still, the federal ban has stood.

A federal judge did strike down the ban last month, ruling that the CDC had exceeded its authority, but a stay was issued while the Biden administration appealed. After an appellate court ruled it would not lift that stay, landlord groups appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In response, 22 state attorneys general on Friday sent an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, urging the justices not to overturn the moratorium. The filing argued that higher vaccination rates have not made tenants more financially secure.

“Economic recovery takes time, and many people still cannot pay back rent while the nation remains in the early phase of reopening,” according to the brief, which included the District of Columbia.

Some states have extended the ban past the federal deadline.

New York’s eviction moratorium protects tenants until Aug. 31. The state’s rent relief program launched June 1 with some glitches and the first relief payments won’t reach tenants for another four to eight weeks.

On Monday, the National Multifamily Housing Council sent a release to landlords in anticipation of the moratorium’s expiration. It listed measures they could take, such as encouraging tenants to apply for rent relief, offering tenants payment plans and extending 30-day notices before filing an eviction proceeding.

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