Federal Judge Bans Eviction Moratorium

Judge strikes down Eviction Moratorium

A federal judge in Washington DC struck down the national eviction moratorium across the country on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Fiedrich of the District of Columbia ruled that the CDC does not have the authority to create and enforce a law regarding evictions. In other words, it is outside of their purview.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lacked the legal authority to impose a national eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruling could potentially impact millions of households that have fallen behind on rent.

Challenge Incoming

The Department of Justice has indicated that they plan to appeal the ruling. They have now appealed the ruling. The Biden administration has said that they are reviewing the ruling and considering their options in regard to the ruling.

The Justice Department has asked the judge to put a stay on the ruling while the appeals process plays out. No response has been given on whether or not the stay will be granted. The judge has now temporarily stayed the ruling.

The Biden administration has indicated it is attempting to pass a 50 billion dollar relief package for renters and landlords. During the moratorium it was declared that back rent would be owed when the moratorium was lifted, though no good process has been set forward, and industry analysts have indicated it will be very difficult to collect back rent for those who could not afford it, or used their stimulus funds for other expenditures.

State and Local Impact

The federal order will not preempt certain eviction moratoriums at the state and local levels.

But, expect more appeals to be filed in those locales based on this ruling. Though a complete list of local and state regulations regarding the eviction moratorium is outside our purview, one of the states whose moratorium will stand is New York.

The ruling will not affect New York’s laws because they are more stringent than the federal measure, said Sen. Brian Kavanagh, D-Manhattan, who sponsored the moratorium legislation in the Senate.
 
“It doesn’t have any direct effect at all,” he said.

The Argument for the Moratorium

Proponents of the eviction moratorium are varied.

Some say that any evictions will make the Covid crisis worse, making the virus easier to spread. They assert that is why the CDC has the authority to enforce the moratorium as it affects public health.

Others assert that during a time of crisis it is unethical to allow evictions. Many of them believe that a rental property is an investment, and that the landlords chose to take that risk.

The more fringe proponents believe that rent is unethical altogether.

The Argument Against the Moratorium

For those who support ending the moratorium, they say that while renters have been provided stimulus, landlords have not. And there have been no provisions enforcing renters to use any of the money from stimulus checks or the expanded unemployment to pay rent.

Some landlords have been hit harder than others. Most have been willing to work with renters to get through the pandemic by updating leases or allowing renters to pay what they can afford. Others have stated they have tenants that are abusing the eviction moratorium altogether, with no plan to pay rent, or use any of the stimulus funds to pay rent.

Regarding the investment argument, landlords have asserted that the moratorium goes beyond simply opening up their risk in investment. They say that if the units are empty, then that is the risk they take in the investment. But, since the renters are allowed to stay in the properties, the landlords are forced to pay additional losses that fall outside of what their investment should entail.

It should be noted that some areas and leases require the landlord to also pay utilities and other costs, and they should not be forced to do so, as many landlords find themselves in the same financial predicament of their renters. Their have been a number of court allowed evictions across the country for abuse of this. In one, tenants ran up $2,000 of utility costs in a single month to spite the landlord.

The Job Market and Unemployment

As the economy has rebounded, many employers are looking for workers. Local business owners we have spoken with say they have job openings they cannot get applicants for.

Others have indicated that the few applicants they have had, have no interest in the job. That they have basically asserted in job interviews they are only doing so to meet unemployment requirements.

While we’ll admit that some of this is anecdotal, the job problem is very real.

The coronavirus pandemic forced many businesses to close their doors and turn away customers and employees, but as many of those businesses and restaurants begin to reopen, they are looking for employees to fill available positions as they keep up with increased demand for their goods and services.

The Effects for Notaries

This was always going to boil over at some point.

For notaries, better or worse, this will result in a large amount of foreclosures across the country. After those foreclosures will come a lot of property sales, most likely much larger than the amount normally seen.

This can be seen as a financial positive for notaries.

This may be slightly tempered by the drastic increase in the price of properties during the crisis. Some economists have argued that Covid has created a bubble in the housing market. One that may lead to another crash in housing prices.

An earlier end to the moratorium, while still popping the bubble, may do so before it gets too large. Most of us remember in 2007 the bubble was too large and left many homeowners under water, compounding the crisis.

Whatever way you personally feel about this situation, it is something that will have a large effect on the notary industry.