Landlords Jump the Gun as Eviction Moratorium Wanes

July 23, 2020

The four-month pause that has protected millions of Americans from eviction cases is set to expire at the end of this week. But that hasn’t stopped landlords across the country from trying to get a head start forcing renters out.

Landlords in Tucson, Ariz., filed dozens of eviction cases last month despite the federal moratorium, which was put in place because of the coronavirus crisis. Legal aid lawyers had to go to court to stop the eviction of a San Antonio renter who had lost her job during a citywide stay-at-home order. And in Omaha, a court found that a struggling renter’s attempted eviction had violated the emergency law.

State and local governments have also issued eviction moratoriums. Still, the CARES Act is the furthest reaching, covering as many as 12.3 million renters living in an apartment complex or single-family home financed with a federally backed mortgage. But like other moratoriums, it’s about to expire: After Friday, landlords can begin filing eviction notices for failure to pay rent. It will be at least 30 days after that before any tenants are kicked out. 

The moratorium has been a lifeline for millions of unemployed people, allowing renters waiting on slow-to-arrive aid to stay in their homes and make up the payments later.

But the far-ranging and hastily assembled CARES Act — which, among things, had provisions for direct relief payments, temporary expansion of unemployment insurance and hundreds of billions of dollars in small-business aid — does not penalize landlords who violate the moratorium.

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