Clock ticks on eviction moratorium

Published: Jun. 3, 2021 at 2:23 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 2:24 PM EDT
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(CNN) – The clock is ticking on the safety net protecting tenants who have fallen behind on rent due to COVID-19 hardships.

The eviction moratorium expires on June 30. It was designed to keep families in their homes during the pandemic.

Small landlords say they haven’t gotten a fair shot in the process, while some tenants are asking for more time.

“I represent small landlords in D.C. Do you know what a terrible job that is right now?” asked Dean Hunter, the CEO of the Small Multifamily & Rental Owners Association.

He says small landlords took an economic hit starting in September.

That’s when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first imposed a federal moratorium on evictions for people suffering a pandemic hardship.

“The problem is that the government regulated us all like we’re multi-national corporations,” Hunter said. “You essentially put the same restrictions that you would put on Bank of America to prevent foreclosures, on small landlords to prevent evictions.”

Hunter said he surveyed his organization’s 200 members, and 70% have tenants who aren’t paying any rent at all.

Ultimately, the small landlords are picking up the tab.

“We’re going to see a decline in the availability of rental property,” Hunter predicted. “They’ve hurt the middle-class property owners and landlords.”

But people like Taurean, an Atlanta resident who didn’t provide her last name, are struggling, too.

Laid off last summer due to the pandemic, she’s now working part-time in food delivery.

She’s supporting herself and her nephew and says she just couldn’t pay her rent.

“My eviction is still pending, but due to the moratorium, they can’t really do anything right now,” Taurean says.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition wants to see the moratorium extended again even though the deadline for lifting the eviction ban has been pushed back three times already.

“We’d like to see it vigorously defended, enforced and extended at least until all $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance can reach the renters who need it to stay stable housed,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the nonprofit.

Struggling renters nationwide are on deadline.

“It’s something of a race against the clock at this point to get these historic emergency rental assistance funds to the lowest-income, most-marginalized, most-vulnerable tenants,” she said.

While Taurean said she’s applied for rental assistance, she said she’s still worried about losing her apartment.

“I don’t even know if I’m going to get the assistance, so it’s just like everything so up in the air,” she says.

In May, a federal judge ruled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t have the authority to issue a moratorium.

The Justice Department has appealed the ruling.

In February, there was a similar ruling in Texas after a group of landlords and property owners sued the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services.

As the legal battles continue, tenant advocacy groups fear the moratorium won’t be extended, meaning tenants can be evicted after the moratorium ends.

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