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Property Owners: Federal Judge Strikes Down Eviction Moratorium

Posted by sonrise on May 12, 2021
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Landlords and property owners have been on a rollercoaster in recent months with regard to the national eviction moratorium. As we all wait anxiously for the world to return to normal, the fact remains that rental property owners cannot continue housing people for free indefinitely.

The tension and confusion ramped up in May, 2021, as a federal judge overturned the national eviction ban, only to see the ruling appealed the following day. The question remains, what does this mean for those of us whose livelihood depends on collecting rent?

What Does the Current Status of the Eviction Moratorium Mean for Property Owners?

Mixed messages on the eviction ban

As CNBC reported on May 5th, Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich struck down the national eviction ban. This ban, put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last September, banned most evictions across the country. While the judge’s ruling would have potentially put millions of renters at risk of eviction, it also came as welcome news to landlords, who have struggled more than most during the pandemic.

But no sooner was the ruling made than a spokesperson for the Department of Justice issued a statement saying that they planned to appeal the ruling. Only a day later, it was reported that the appeal had been made.

What does this mean for landlords and renters? In essence, the Department of Justice sought a temporary stay of the ruling, and the judge granted their request. That means that the eviction ban, for all intents and purposes, is still in effect for however long the court battle over the ruling may last, or until June 30, when the moratorium was already set to expire.

State eviction bans

While folks on the federal level continue to fight it out over the national eviction ban, it’s worth remembering that states also have the right to enforce their own bans. So, while the federal ruling is certainly important, it may also be a moot point for landlords in states that have their own bans in place.

Not all states have eviction bans in place, but many do. In Washington state, for example, the eviction moratorium originally put into effect by Governor Jay Inslee more than a year ago has been extended until June 30, 2021. With limited exceptions, this moratorium bans residential evictions due to unpaid rent, and requires Washington landlords to offer a repayment plan without late fees for unpaid rent.

The bottom line for property owners

For property managers, landlords, and anyone who relies on rent payments to make their living, the frustrating fact remains that, at least for now, very little has changed.

Despite the ruling by Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich that the CDC doesn’t have the right to prevent landlords from evicting tenants, the quickly-filed appeal from the Department of Justice essentially renders this ruling ineffective, at least until a final decision is reached. At the time of publication, the federal moratorium on evictions remains in effect.

As a landlord whose renters are protected by the moratorium, your best course of action remains to help connect renters with the rental assistance that is available to them if they need it. More than $45 billion in rental assistance is available to renters who have been impacted by COVID-19, and most of that money is sent directly to landlords to pay for the affected renters’ housing costs.

Contact us today to learn more about how the resources of a professional property management company can help landlords through this challenging time. As always, we’ll bring you more updates on the federal and state eviction bans as information becomes available.

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