Court overturns eviction ban, even as rent relief is slow to arrive
Updated on August 30th, 2021
Mynd Editorial Staff
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 26 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exceeded its authority in trying to prevent landlords from evicting tenants during a public health emergency. Other state and local moratoriums remain in effect, but policymakers fear that the court’s move could kick off a cascade of evictions before the $46.5 billion set aside for rent relief can be distributed.
The Census Bureau reported that more than one million people faced eviction for nonpayment of rent over the next two months, with millions more behind on rent. According to the Treasury Department, just $1.7 billion was distributed in July, and only $5.1 billion has been paid out, or about 11 percent of the total, as of Aug. 25. States and cities have struggled to streamline the application process, and there have been reports of web portals that are difficult to navigate or have crashed when tenants are applying.
The Biden Administration sent out a letter on Aug. 27 urging local officials to extend their moratoriums and also asked them to require landlords to apply for federal aid before enforcing evictions. It recommended that evictions be delayed while rental aid applications were pending.
Clients of Mynd, either property owners or tenants, should reach out to their local representatives if they need assistance on where or how to apply for rent relief.
The administration took steps early on to shore up the housing market where tenants in arrears and landlords behind on mortgages posed a threat to stability.
On May 7, it released guidelines detailing efforts to prevent evictions and provide emergency assistance to renters. The program is also aimed at assisting small-time landlords who are behind on their mortgages because of disruptions in rental payments.
The first phase of the Emergency Rental Assistance plan (ERA 1) set aside $25 billion and was included in the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. Applications for assistance under the plan initially had to be initiated by landlords. While states decide how the money is distributed, landlords affected by the pandemic could request assistance on behalf of their tenants. To access funds for tenants who are unable to pay, landlords needed to:
- Get the tenant’s signature on the application (electronic signatures are acceptable)
- Share all correspondence and paperwork with tenants
- Use the funds for current rent or back rent.
One of the key changes in the $21.6 billion ERA 2, part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed by President Biden in March, is that tenants were empowered to initiate the application process.
The application for assistance under ERA 2 reduced the waiting time for tenants, eased some application requirements and called for greater protections against evictions. It also covered some expenses related to finding new housing for some tenants, including moving expenses, security deposits, future rent, utilities, and the cost of a transitional stay in a hotel or motel.
Some property owners have complained about a few unscrupulous tenants who have used the crisis as an excuse to avoid rent payments altogether, though they may not qualify under the CDC guidelines for rent relief.
Those in need can consult this site at the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development and find resources by clicking on their state. Many cities have set up agencies to distribute emergency relief funds, so tenants in distress should contact their local government or research help on the city or county website. Clients of Mynd Management are urged to reach out to their local sales agent for help.