The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the federal eviction moratorium has been extended through June 30, a move that will protect millions of tenants who have struggled to make their rent payments during the coronavirus crisis.
Shortly after the CDC announcement, two key financial regulators warned that they will be “monitoring and investigating” eviction practices in light of the newly extended ban, pointing to “reports that major multistate landlords are forcing people out of their homes."
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to the nation’s public health,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
The CDC initially released an order in September barring eviction for nonpayment of rent through the end of 2020, citing a 1944 public health law. Congress extended it in December, and the Biden administration renewed it again through March 31.
Congress has also enacted more than $45 billion in rental assistance to help distressed tenants pay off back rent and ensure that struggling landlords are able to make mortgage payments, but little of that money has been distributed yet.
The eviction ban requires tenants to state that they have been financially affected by Covid-19 and can no longer pay rent. Evictions for other reasons are still permitted.
Monday’s extension makes no substantive changes to the policy, despite housing advocates pushing the administration to boost enforcement measures to prevent landlords from going around the moratorium.
National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel said the extension was “essential” but does not go far enough.
“It’s disappointing that the administration didn’t act on the clear evidence and need to also strengthen the order to address the flaws that undermine its public health purpose,” Yentel said in an email.
“While the Biden administration is well aware of the shortcomings in the moratorium order that allow some evictions to proceed during the pandemic, the CDC director did not correct them,” she added. “She simply extended President Trump’s original order, leaving the loopholes and flaws in place, an unfortunate and shortsighted decision that will result in some continued harmful evictions during the pandemic.”
The heads of the CFPB and the Federal Trade Commission issued a statement later on Monday putting landlords on notice that they're being watched.
“We will not tolerate illegal practices that displace families and expose them—and by extension all of us—to grave health risks,” acting CFPB Director Dave Uejio and acting Federal Trade Commission Chair Rebecca Slaughter said in the joint statement.
Uejio and Slaughter said reports that people are facing eviction despite the government prohibitions or before tenants are made aware of their rights “may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices, including under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act.”
CFPB and FTC staff “will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms, to ensure that they are complying with the law,” Uejio and Slaughter said.
A recent CFPB report found that 8.8 million households are behind on rent.