The Biden administration on Thursday extended the national moratorium on evictions through July 31, 2021 — one month longer than the ban was set to expire.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the one-month extension with the caveat that “this is intended to be the final extension of the moratorium.” Over the last several months, the eviction moratorium has gone through multiple rounds of extensions, to renters’ relief and landlords’ dismay.
Many tenant rights groups have been lobbying for an extension of the moratorium over fears that the expiration of the federal mandate could lead to a wave of evictions across the country.
That concern, as well as lagging vaccination rates in different parts of the country, played a role in swaying the White House to approve the extension, according to a report from the New York Times. On Tuesday, 44 House Democrats wrote to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, pleading for an extension to the moratorium, “to protect vulnerable renters.”
Many state and city eviction bans across the country are set to expire over the course of the summer, however, which will soon leave many renters in a precarious position.
Landlord groups and their advocates, however, argue that the greatest threat of the COVID-19 crisis has passed, and that the eviction moratorium has gone on too long.
“Each passing month further escalates the risk of losing an ever-increasing amount of rental housing, ultimately jeopardizing the availability of safe, sustainable and affordable housing for all Americans,” National Apartment Association President and CEO Bob Pinnegar said in a statement. “Flawed eviction moratoriums leave renters with insurmountable debt and housing providers holding the bag as our nation’s housing affordability crisis spirals into a housing affordability disaster.”
“The position is entirely unjustified by the current state of the economy,” Alan Hammer, a real estate attorney at Brach Eichler, said in a statement emailed to Inman. “Clients and partners complain about how hard it is to hire for almost any position. The inability to pay is a problem for the people most affected by the pandemic, such as restaurant workers. There are jobs available for them. The reality is that the tenants who owe the most will not be evicted. They will leave without paying when the moratorium on evictions ends.”
As a real estate agent who deals with a lot of bank-owned properties, Tiffany Domneys, an agent with Execuhome Realty outside of Baltimore, said she could empathize with both sides of the situation.
“It’s almost like a double-edged sword,” Domneys told Inman. “Because we know what we just went through, and we want people to be able to kind of recoup from that, but you also have landlords who have been … I mean, it’s just a mess. Because now a lot of these landlords are ready to get rid of their properties and they’ve been in the business for so long.”
“Then you have [the tenants] that really need the help … so, it’s just awful right now,” she added. “We don’t know what to expect — that’s the problem.”
The Biden administration plans to take a number of other steps in upcoming weeks to help stem the damage from the impending eviction ban expiration come August, according to the Times. Some of those efforts include a summit on housing affordability and evictions at the White House, more robust coordination with local officials and legal aid organizations to limit evictions after the ban ends, and further guidance from the Treasury Department on how to more efficiently distribute renter and landlord emergency aid funds that were part of the pandemic relief bill passed in the spring.
Update: This story was updated with additional reactions to the eviction moratorium extension.