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Officials extend moratorium on rental evictions through end of 2020

The CDC issued the extension order, citing public health concerns

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The Trump administration is extending the moratorium on rental evictions that expired in late July. In an unusual twist, it's using the authority of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do it.

Under direction from the White House, the CDC has issued an order suspending the eviction of renters who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and don't have other good housing options. 

Like the moratorium on foreclosures on homes with federally-backed mortgages announced last week by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the eviction moratorium is extended through the end of this year.

The CDC action was taken under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act, which gives the agency the authority to take action to protect public health. In this case, the agency cited the spread of COVID-19 as a serious public health issue and said forcing millions of people from their homes would increase the spread of the virus.

Threat to public health

Declaring that “COVID-19 presents a historic threat to public health,” the CDC said keeping people safe in their homes will reduce the spread of the virus.

“In the context of a pandemic, eviction moratoria -- like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing -- can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease,” the CDC said in its order.

“Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation by people who become ill or who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition. They also allow state and local authorities to more easily implement stay-at-home and social distancing directives to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19.”

The agency also said housing stability helps protect public health, pointing out that homelessness increases the likelihood of individuals moving into congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, which then puts individuals at higher risk to COVID-19.

Limits action by landlords

Under the order, a landlord, owner of a residential property, or “other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action,” shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any jurisdiction to which the order applies. The order does not offer a way for landlords to eventually get paid their back rent.

The action means that whether you own a home or rent, you have protection from foreclosure or eviction through December 31, 2020. 

Protections for both groups were provided under the CARES Act, and proposed extensions were contained in renewed stimulus legislation that is currently the object of a stalemate between Republicans and Democrats.

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