National renter eviction moratorium illegal, federal judge rules

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A federal judge in Washington ruled today that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium was illegal, possibly setting the stage for landlords to begin removing tenants who are behind on their rent.

The CDC imposed the nationwide eviction moratorium in response to spiking unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic last year, arguing that tenants who suddenly found themselves unable to pay rent should not be forced out of their homes. That policy was set to expire at the end of June.

Now, Judge Dabney Friedrich says the moratorium must be terminated, but it’s unclear if her ruling will be stayed pending appeal.

“It is clear that the Biden administration will do what it needs to do, within the bounds of the law, to try to prevent a wave of evictions. As the White House and Justice Department view next steps, my sense is that an appeal of the federal judge’s decision is a no-brainer,” said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate’s Washington bureau chief. “So, while there is some added uncertainty here, my advice would be to say ‘stay tuned.'”

The moratorium has been especially controversial among small landlords, who say that delinquent tenants who can’t be evicted prevent them from covering their own expenses.

In March, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimated that 8.8 million families were behind on rent.

If you’re struggling to make your rent or mortgage payments, the Biden administration announced billions of dollars in aid that could hep you bridge the gap. The distribution of those funds has hardly been seamless, but the money is available.

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Written by
Zach Wichter
Mortgage reporter
Zach Wichter is a mortgage reporter at Bankrate. He previously worked on the Business desk at The New York Times where he won a Loeb Award for breaking news, and covered aviation for The Points Guy.