In a 5–4 decision, the court rejected a plea by landlords to end the ban on evictions that was put in place amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic as some tenants have struggled to pay rent. The ruling means that the moratorium will remain in place until July 31.
The Biden administration announced another extension of the national moratorium on evictions last week to support renters and prevent foreclosures. The measure had previously been scheduled to expire on June 30.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined with the court’s three Democrat-appointed justices to keep the moratorium in place, while Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas voted against the extension.
Kavanaugh wrote in an opinion (pdf) that while he believes that the CDC had exceeded its authority by implementing the moratorium, he voted against ending it only because it’s set to expire on July 31, “and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution” of the funds that Congress has appropriated to provide rental assistance to those in need because of the pandemic.
Kavanaugh noted that any additional extension of the nationwide moratorium on evictions past July 31 would require “clear and specific congressional authorization” through new legislation.
The Biden administration has said it doesn’t plan to extend the moratorium past July 31. The White House has since announced several actions to help state and local governments prevent a “flood of evictions” when the freeze ends.
The decision comes as roughly 6 million households are behind on rent payments, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There are nearly 110 million Americans living in rental households and 19 million to 23 million of them are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30, according to a study by the Aspen Financial Security Program.
The White House has announced several actions to help state and local governments prevent a “flood of evictions” when the freeze ends.
According to the White House, there’s more than $46 billion available for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program that could be used to help vulnerable renters and landlords. Hence, state and local governments “must do better” in moving this money to people in need, the White House stated in a fact sheet.
The Biden administration is urging state and local courts “to adopt anti-eviction diversion practices” to prevent a rush to eviction and encourage mediation between tenants and landlords.
In addition, the Treasury Department is allowing the funds for state and local governments and for emergency rental assistance to be used to finance eviction diversion plans, including counseling, navigator, and legal services.
As part of the plan to prevent evictions, the White House will also host an online summit of “local government, judicial, legal, and community leaders from 50 cities” to develop community-specific solutions and action plans to help tenants and landlords.
Emel Akan contributed to this report.