On Thursday, Supreme Court Justices blocked a temporary ban from the Biden administration which was put in place to protect tenants from being evicted by their landlords if they had not been paying rent. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many tenants had not paid rent but could not be asked to leave their rented premises.
Six of the Supreme Court Justices, all of whom are considered conservative, voted to end the eviction moratorium. They are
- John Roberts
- Clarence Thomas
- Samuel Alito
- Neil Gorsuch
- Brett Kavanaugh
- Amy Coney Barrett
Three liberal justices voted to keep the eviction moratorium. They are
- Stephen Breyer
- Sonia Sotomayor
- Elena Kagan.
After the ruling from the nation’s highest court, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can no longer enforce a federal moratorium that had prevented those who had not paid rent to remain secure under their roofs due to the pandemic. The majority of the justices believed that the CDC had exceeded its authority by imposing a temporary ban.
The opinion stated that Congress had not given the CDC the “sweeping authority” to assert such a moratorium. They said that Congress must specifically authorize a federally imposed eviction ban.
The eviction ban began in August 2020 and was extended regularly up to July 2021 but now it has received an expiry date and tenants can be told to leave rented premises by their landlords.
Some states have an eviction moratorium that will not be affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling. They are
- New York
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
- Washington D.C.
Congress had allocated almost $50 billion to help renters pay their overdue rent so that there would be no need for eviction. The package has worked in some states and counties but it has not reached a huge majority of renters who need this financial aid.
According to a report by NPR the December 2020 Covid-19 relief package allocated $25 billion to be given as emergency rental assistance for renters who had low incomes. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) was also enforced under the Treasury Department of the U.S. government. The American Rescue Plan of March 2021 provided an additional $ 21.55 billion to the ERA, making the total allocation $46.55 billion.
A huge of amount of this fund has not been disbursed. An estimate says that 15 states have not even disbursed five percent of the federal dollars to distressed renters under ERA. Soon, the renters will face evictions as the Supreme Court ruling has come into effect.