The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday issued a sweeping nationwide temporary eviction moratorium to prevent a further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Titled “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19,” the moratorium will last through December 31 and effectively applies to non-payment of rent. While the halt comes at a particularly good moment when millions of Americans are facing threats of evictions, it does not mean that rent payments will be forgiven, it also does not prohibit landlords and property owners from charging late fees.
The move by the administration on Tuesday was independent after the congress failed to come to a conclusive directive on whether to extend the eviction moratorium that ended in July. To obtain the relief, renters must assert they are incapacitated by the virus to pay their rents or are likely to become homeless if they are kicked out of the property. Additionally, the publication also said that the eviction moratorium will not apply to the residents who engage in criminal acts, threaten the health and safety of other residents, damage the property, or violate their lease, unless for rent nonpayment.
Who is and Who’s Not Protected by the New Order?
The United States Congress is the voice of the people and, unfortunately, the same voice failed to reach a consensus about whether to extend the eviction moratorium that lapsed in July. The decision by Trump’s administration is a saving grace to millions of people. This decision does a lot of good especially for the low wage and salaried workers suffering from the effects of the virus, but the National Apartment Association said that the hasty move by CDC risked to further deepen the housing crisis in the country. The goal is to prevent an economic strain from the evictions, but what the administration failed to spotlight is the plight and the economic strain that landlords will suffer. Ever since the COVID-19 was reported in the country, the gravity and the effects have been almost entirely one-sided, with landlords bearing the heaviest load. Many reporters say that this move was an “unprecedented use of executive authority,” and soon, we might see a series of legal challenges and litigations from landlords.
Did the CDC Overstep?
Federal law permits the CDC to order emergency measures when they determine that the state or the local governments have not done enough to protect vulnerable citizens. Even though the move by the government is right in some part, you must wonder, who stands to benefit more? The government or the renters. Since when does a disease have an income limit for evictions or foreclosures? The best way to protect people should have been not to put a cap on the income because the virus does not discriminate, it affects everyone, regardless of your income. It doesn’t matter how much money I make if I am impacted by the virus.
The timing of this is also suspicious. Remember elections are getting closer by the day, and listening to the announcement by Brian Morgenstern, the White House Spokesman you could tell that this was just another desperate ploy by the President to win the hearts of vulnerable people “President Trump is committed to helping hardworking Americans stay in their homes and combating the spread of the coronavirus.” He continued to say that this announcement means that people struggling with their rent will “not have to worry about being evicted.” No one facing eviction is complaining about the move. Do not hate the player. Hate the game. Since mid-March, most renters have in one way used the government to escape their financial obligations in terms of rent payments, and now, the government extended that ‘game.’ While it is a necessary step, it is a half-measure a dangerous trap for renters which extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed,” said Diane Yentel, President of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). “This action delays but does not prevent evictions. Congress and the White House must get back to work on negotiations to enact a COVID-19 relief bill with at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance.”
Diane is right, but Diane is also naïve if she thinks the government can and should stop evictions. The government can bail out landlords, like they did banks in 2008 which will stop evictions, but the reality is that you cannot live anywhere for free. The White House acted in the best interest of the people and in the best interest of getting Trump reelected. It is opportunistic but that is politics. Congress needs to get back to the table and negotiate a relief bill that make sense for the country and that includes Landlords. Advantage Trump on this move in the game.
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