News & Politics

Federal Judge Leaves Biden’s Eviction Moratorium in Place

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

Despite the Supreme Court’s emergency order on Thursday blocking a New York law barring evictions, Joe Biden was undoubtedly doing a victory lap around the Rose Garden on Friday. Granted, it may have taken him a while since he probably had to stop for directions, smell the roses and his Secret Service detail’s hair, and notice a cloud that looked like a bunny, but he likely got there, eventually.

The reason for the celebration was a ruling earlier in the day by U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Dabney Friedrich that the CDC’s eviction moratorium, will remain in place. This despite the fact that she originally ruled the moratorium illegal. She claimed that her hands were tied by an appellate court decision in the spring. An appeal is expected by Alabama landlords who have challenged the moratorium. The freeze itself is currently set to expire October 3, but if you are a landlord, you probably should not hold your breath.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a release:

“The Administration believes that CDC’s new moratorium is a proper use of its lawful authority to protect the public health. We are pleased that the district court left the moratorium in place, though we are aware that further proceedings in this case are likely.

“The President continues to call on State and local elected officials and judges to issue local eviction moratoriums and move aggressively to distribute the $46.5 billion in emergency rental assistance funds that are available through the bipartisan COVID relief act that Congress passed in December 2020, and through the President’s American Rescue Plan that was enacted in March 2021. And, the President calls on landlords to seek out rental assistance and not evict tenants from their homes, and echoes Attorney General Garland’s calls for state and local courts to implement policies to discourage eviction filings until landlords and tenants have sought emergency rental assistance funds.”

So the check is in the mail for landlords. Maybe. Perhaps. But who knows how long that will take and what shape property owners will be in by the time the money finally arrives. I used to pick up a few bucks as a kid cleaning and repainting rental properties for a neighbor. This guy was no millionaire. He picked up the properties to augment his income as a carpenter and provide for his wife and new baby. He didn’t drive a Jag or vacation in the Hamptons. He vacationed in his backyard. And those are the people who are going to take it in the teeth. The kind of people Lunch Pail Joe from Scranton said he was championing. If any landlords do survive this, they will probably be gun-shy before renting again, keeping even responsible renters from finding a place to live. Of course, I guess the landlords can always sell to BlackRock. They may get a tax break from the White House or an invitation to the next DNC National Convention.

Of note: Friedrich, a Trump appointee, reportedly lives in 6 bedroom, 6-and-half bathroom home that has a value of around $2.5 million. Just some food for thought as you listen to the sound of a can bouncing down the road.