The CDC's Eviction Moratorium Is Neither Necessary Nor Legally Sound 

Despite fears that a pandemic-ravaged economy would force renters from their homes in droves, evictions were down nationwide at the end of summer.


The Trump administration has pushed the envelope of its executive authority once again by issuing a blanket eviction moratorium that applies to all rental properties nationwide.

The order, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in early September, says tenants earning up to $99,000 ($198,000 for joint filers) cannot be evicted for failing to pay their rent, provided they tell their landlord in writing that they have made every effort to obtain government assistance, that they have lost income or received extraordinary out-of-pocket medical bills, and that their eviction would force them into homelessness or into a crowded living situation.

Landlords can still evict tenants who engage in criminal activity on the property or who pose a risk to public health or safety. Property owners who try to remove a tenant in violation of the CDC's directive could face a $100,000 fine and a year in jail. The order goes beyond the federal eviction moratorium passed by Congress in March, which applied only to the 28 percent of properties covered by federal mortgage guarantees or other federal housing programs.

Some housing advocates cheered the move and called for emergency rental assistance to forestall a potential wave of evictions once the moratorium ends. Landlord groups opposed the order while also making the case for rental assistance that will help their members get paid.

But despite fears that a pandemic-ravaged economy would force renters from their homes in droves, evictions were down nationwide at the end of summer. "Data so far show no indication of a heightened rate of evictions," says economist Salim Furth of George Mason University's Mercatus Center. "By acting prematurely, the administration is putting a heavy financial burden on housing providers."

The eviction moratorium also rests on shaky legal ground. The CDC says its authority comes from federal regulations that give the agency's director the power to take any measures deemed "reasonably necessary" to prevent the interstate spread of communicable disease, including "inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, and destruction of animals or articles believed to be sources of infection."

Those examples, South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman noted in a blog post for The Volokh Conspiracy, "are localized, and limited to prevent the spread of an infection in a single building or location. None of these examples are even remotely close to a nationwide moratorium on evictions."

Legal or not, the CDC order shows how a patchwork of temporary eviction moratoriums can morph into a sweeping federal policy mainstream enough to be adopted by a Republican administration.

NEXT: Brickbat: A Bunch of Sadists

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  1. To all the lolbertarians who read this rag, please ask yourself the following question: “Would a Supreme Court packed by Hillary Clinton defend this government overreach?” Think about that next time you decide you need to vote with your “principles”.

    1. You do know that Trump is the force behind the eviction mandate by an executive order, don’t you?

      1. Shhhh! Don’t want to confuse him with, you know, facts and stuff.

      2. Actually, no, I don’t think we know that. Trump hasn’t tweeted opposition to the CDC order but neither has he explicitly endorsed it (that I’m aware of). The hypothesis remains open that the eviction mandate was a decision by CDC ‘swamp critters’.

        Regardless, that’s not RHW’s point. Yeah, he’s usually a parody account but this time, I think it was a real point. Regardless of Trump’s opinion on the eviction mandate (or the wall or any other example of executive overreach), what do you think are the prospects of judicial review of that overreach under courts filled by hypothetical presidents? All presidents overreach. Trump at least seemed to appoint justices who will occasionally rein in the overreach.

    2. Joe Biden appeared to clinch a victory on Saturday morning to become 46th president of the United States, closing out an election cycle that was dominated in the final months by debates around COVID-19, the economy, and police reform………..VISIT HERE FOR FULL DETAIL.

  2. What has legal got to do with anything now that the elite heads of social media companies, and the editors of various publications determine the election outcome, and not the counting of lawful ballots as determined by the courts?
    Snow or not, I may have to move back to Georgia and hope I die soon enough to not watch the entire country turn into California.

    1. You do know that Georgia went blue in this latest election, don’t you?

  3. Anything further since last night on the use of Benford’s law to detect fraud in the Biden vote? I’m particularly interested in people’s reactions to this news.

    This means that going forward, elections in the USA are going to be viewed by international observers as just as phony as the elections in parts of the world we make fun of. People in many states may just stop voting as they get confirmation their votes aren’t handled seriously.

    I was just looking to see if Benford’s law came up in the litigation over the scientific data my post-doctoral lab chief detected as fraudulent. Indeed it did.

    1. “I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how.” – Uncle Joe


    2. With all the foreign leaders quickly coming in to congratulate Biden on his victory, I don’t think they care who we elect so long as it isn’t Trump either.

      They’re treating Trump like Maduro.

    3. Radley Balko tweeted several links debunking the idea of Benford’s Law proving election fraud. You can go check them out.

    4. Blockchain could solve this problem.

      The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance might be helpful here, with members of the biggest tech, accounting firms, etc. on board–Microsoft and Ernst & Young among them.

      Unfortunately, leaving it to the federal government, we’re more likely to end up with a rollout like the ObamaCare exchanges.

      Oh, and this assumes, of course, that people in the government really want to solve the problem of voter fraud or make it easy for people to vote. People being free to vote from home via blockchain wouldn’t necessarily benefit Republicans.

      1. Since when voting you can only be allowed to possess one coin, blockchain, by ensuring the ability to track and verify every transaction that coin is involved in, eliminates privacy.

        Bitcoin can start off anonymous so that tracking the transactions does not break anonymity.

        Voting would require lo linking a coin to an identity and then you can trace that identity through all transactions – no more anonymous voting.

        Now, that might be worth the trade-off. But it is a trade-off that needs to be considered.

    5. “People in many states may just stop voting as they get confirmation their votes aren’t handled seriously.”

      Feature, not bug, according to the shortsighted on the Left.

    6. If you think Benford’s law can somehow establish suspect vote counts, then take some numbers and show us a frequency distribution of the leftmost digit.

  4. Have we talked yet about senile Rudy accidentally booking Trump’s press conference this weekend at a landscaping business called “Four Seasons” instead of the hotel? LMAO

    1. It was bizarre and incompetent. It was Rudy.

  5. So Britschgi wants government to create a problem to fix and then not follow through with the fix?

  6. A lot of state and local governments issued moratoriums on evictions. So that is why they are down. But thanks for the TDS article it’s in line with all the others. Calibrated by koch industries.

    1. Fuck off slaver. You and the federal government have no business telling me who I can rent to and when.

      1. You’re either really good at sarcasm or really bad at reading comprehension.

        1. Those are not mutually exclusive – – – – – – – – –

          (especially here)

    2. Actually, no. Even at state and local level, evictions are down regardless of the moratoriums.

      However, we do have clear evidence that maintenance and other investments by landlords are down in jurisdictions with moratoriums. In other words, landlords are rational creatures who respond to economic uncertainty by conserving cash.

  7. If only Trump had gone big against eviction moratoriums, then maybe more Libertarians would have voted for Trump!

    Is that how it works?

    Even without the moratoriums, there still would have been the “problem” of Trump’s tweets, but if the price of freedom is Donald Trump’s tweets, obviously that’s more suffering than a registered Libertarian can be expected to take.

    1. Lift those boots up high and bring those heels down hard. Use the data or just make up shit to screw with us. Man I love big government policies like this. Note, I don’t rent going either way. Avoidance isn’t always easy, big gov always lurking, sniffing your hair or whatever.

  8. Silly Christian.

    We live in the era of post modernist post-truth. There are no underlying abstract principles and rules. Every issue must be decided in isolation and the feelz-best option must be selected. Plus, of course, there are no consequences, intended or not.

  9. Anyone feeling the love and unity yet?

    If not, please report to President Ha -err Biden’s peaceful healing and love reunification camp at once.

  10. The Trump administration has pushed the envelope of its executive authority once again by issuing a blanket eviction moratorium that applies to all rental properties nationwide.

    Careful there, Britches, it will soon enough be the Biden administration and the executive orders will go much further than this and you do not want to be going on the record as opposing any of Biden’s policies. People might mistake you for a Trump supporter and it’s off to the re-education camps or gulag for you.

  11. If this illegal but feelz-good mandate is attributed to Trump, maybe he is just gaslighting the progressive masses. Do they reject the mandate because Trump did it, or do they embrace the moratorium (and accept the source)?

  12. Property owners who try to remove a tenant in violation of the CDC’s directive could face a $100,000 fine and a year in jail.

    This says a landlord who files an eviction suit against a tenant may be looking at federal prison time for just filing the suit. Criminal penalties for an obvious civil action. Is this what the law, executive order, whatever the CDC issues actually states?

    PS: WTH happened to the preview button?

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