At the end of July 2021, a bill was introduced in the House and Senate, which, if enacted, would create a federal tax credit to fund the conversion of unused office buildings into residential, commercial, or mixed-use properties. The Revitalizing Downtowns Act (S. 2511), which is modeled after the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit, would provide a federal tax credit equal to 20 percent of “qualified conversion expenditures” with respect to a “qualified converted building.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and local governments have adopted varying moratoria on evictions, enacted as emergency legislative protections for tenants facing eviction. The federal moratorium on eviction, promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is set to expire on July 31. While the Supreme Court recently left the moratorium in place, the Court signaled that it would likely be held unconstitutional if extended and challenged again. With the sole federal moratorium expiring, state and local protections may remain in effect; however, many of these local orders are also beginning to expire. Washington, DC’s eviction moratorium, one of the most tenant-friendly pieces of emergency legislation in the country, is one such example, beginning a phaseout process that allows the pace of evictions to slowly begin throughout 2021 before a final legislative sunset in February 2022.
In a closely watched 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court sided against the challengers to the eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), keeping a stay in place that leaves the eviction ban in effect through July 31. The CDC has indicated it will not renew the eviction moratorium when it expires at the end of the month.
As new cases of COVID-19 declines, each County in the San Francisco Bay Area is reopening gradually in accordance with the California’s colored tier system. The patchwork of local rules and orders is difficult to follow. Our Bay Area Reopening Tracker is here to help. We have included each of the nine Bay Area counties, and their respective current tier, Health Order (and additional relevant orders), and our short comments regarding their status. Please check back in with us—we plan to update the Bay Area Reopening Tracker weekly for the foreseeable future.
Late last week a federal district court judge for the District of Columbia held that the nationwide eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) went beyond the agency’s statutory authority and vacated it nationwide. This decision effectively expanded a similar decision by a Texas federal court last month that found the CDC’s moratorium was an improper use of federal power but limited its decision to the litigants to that case and declined to vacate the CDC order.
One year into the pandemic, courts have almost uniformly found that COVID-19 does not permit commercial tenants to avoid their rent payment obligations. In this case, the court continued that trend, ruling that the pandemic was not a “casualty” that permits a tenant to abate its rent payments or cancel its lease. Authors Patrick J. Potter, Christian A. Buerger, Hugh M. McDonald, Patrick E. Fitzmaurice, and Jonathan Doolittle discuss a new case from the Southern District of New York that extends the trend of courts enforcing leases against tenants forced to close due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in “Court Finds Pandemic Does Not Satisfy Lease’s Casualty Clause.”
A federal judge in Texas has declared the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium unconstitutional, holding that Article I’s power to regulate interstate commerce and enact laws necessary and proper for such regulation does not include the power to suspend residential evictions on a nationwide basis. While the court stopped short of issuing immediate injunctive relief, instead relying on the CDC to “respect the declaratory judgment” and withdraw the Order, the court stated that such relief would be available if the government does not comply with the decision. With this ruling, the most significant prohibition on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent is likely to be lifted, and many residential evictions halted or delayed under the Order may begin in earnest. While additional tenant protections remain in certain locales, this federal ruling increases the likely rate and pace of residential eviction activity across the country.
Months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide eviction moratorium using its emergency pandemic powers under the Public Health Service Act, the efficacy of this unprecedented measure remains unclear. While the Order ostensibly protects tenants facing homelessness or housing insecurity due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through the end of 2020, legal challenges have been initiated in Ohio and Georgia, with additional lawsuits appearing likely. Further, even barring legal challenges, courts have not handled these cases in a uniform manner. With lawmakers unable to reach any stimulus or COVID-19 relief agreement before the election, the CDC Order appears likely to remain the only federal eviction moratorium through its expiration on December 31, 2020.
2020 has been an unprecedented year, and, while there are likely more twists and turns to come before December 31, it is essential to look at how the real estate markets have changed this year and which trends are likely to continue into 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every industry, including commercial real estate, and its impact will continue to influence the market and commercial real estate long after the virus has been eradicated.