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Politics & Money

Industry groups urge Biden to let CDC eviction ban sunset

Limits are scheduled to run out at the end of June

A broad swath of the housing industry is calling for the Biden administration to let the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eviction ban lapse at the end of this month.

In a letter, 12 industry groups including the National Association of Realtors, the National Multifamily Housing Council, which represents large rental landlords, the National Apartment Association, the National Association of Home Builders and the Mortgage Bankers Association urged the Biden administration to allow the CDC limits on evictions to expire.

The limits allow tenants to raise a defense in court if they file a form with their landlord stating that they cannot pay rent, have lost income due to the pandemic, and promise to make partial payments.

Nearly $50 billion in federal rental assistance, the industry coalition argued, has been successful in bringing many renters current. The coalition points out that the share of households making less than $35,000 who are caught up on their rent has risen 11 percentage points, according to the Census Housing Pulse Survey.

Removing the limits would provide an “important catalyst” to getting the rental checks flowing to landlords again, the coalition wrote, so they can pay their debt service and maintain their properties.

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“We all want to see renters made whole,” said Michael Flood, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s senior vice president of commercial and multifamily. “Not only are they now able to make rent payments, but there is rental assistance on the way. Even more importantly, there are jobs on the way.”

The industry coalition also writes that economic conditions have improved substantially in recent months. The unemployment rate dropped to 5.8% in May, compared to a high 14.8% in April 2020.

The moratorium has been in place since September, when the coronavirus was surging. In April, the CDC renewed the measure through the end of June 2021.

While many in the housing industry would like to see the limits on evictions lifted, observers have questioned its effectiveness. In March, the Government Accountability Office found that the CDC’s eviction limits may have had little impact on filings.

Evictions have increased since the initial CARES Act eviction ban expired in July 2020. In states with additional local bans, eviction filings have stayed much lower, whereas evictions in states with only the CDC limits have had larger increases.

The GAO explained that renters may not understand how the CDC’s eviction limits work, and the agency has taken “few steps to promote awareness and understanding of the moratorium and its requirements.”

The CDC ban’s mixed results haven’t deterred industry groups from seeking to topple it, however. For a brief period in May, those efforts bore fruit, when a federal judge overturned the CDC’s ban.

Within hours, the Department of Justice filed an emergency appeal to the D.C. Circuit.

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