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.
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.
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.