Joe Biden

Biden's Recovery Plan Would Extend the Federal Government's Extraordinary Eviction Ban Through September 2021

Eviction bans were enacted as an emergency public health measure. They’re quickly becoming a permanent policy.

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The conversion of eviction bans from an emergency public health measure to a semi-permanent economic relief program continues apace with President-elect Joe Biden's new $1.9 trillion recovery proposal. His plan calls on Congress to extend federal moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures through the end of September 2021.

"Failing to take additional action will lead to a wave of evictions and foreclosures in the coming months, overwhelming emergency shelter capacity and increasing the likelihood of COVID-19 infection," warns a fact sheet Biden released on his recovery plan.

That the president-elect is assigning Congress the burden of extending the federal eviction ban—rather than claiming the authority to issue one by himself—is a silver lining. The Trump administration relied on an expansive, legally tenuous view of its own executive authority when it issued a sweeping eviction moratorium in September.

Biden is instead encouragingly adopting a more limited vision of his presidential powers, even as he doubles down on a heavy-handed housing policy that is an unnecessary, and potentially counterproductive, means of preventing a true "wave" of evictions.

"While a lot of people are warning of an eviction tsunami, that's not something we have seen anywhere yet," Emily Hamilton, a researcher at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, told Reason in December.

Some of this can be attributed to the moratoriums that have been put in place at the local, state, and federal levels, Hamilton says, but "even if we look at the Great Recession, evictions didn't increase over their typical rates because landlords know if they eviction someone for rent non-payment now, they don't have options for replacing them with someone else who will be able to pay the rent."

Eviction moratoriums have nevertheless become a ubiquitous feature of the government response to COVID-19. Provided Congress heeds Biden's call, this will mean the federal government will have had some form of eviction ban on the books for 18 months.

These policies got started at the federal level back in March when Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson authorized the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to suspend foreclosures and evictions at single-family properties that had an FHA-insured mortgage for 60 days.

The CARES Act, passed by Congress later that month, extended that moratorium for 120 days and expanded it to cover tenants receiving federal housing aid, or living at properties that had a federally-backed mortgage. About 28 percent of multifamily properties were covered by this eviction ban according to the Congressional Research Service. That bill also banned foreclosures of residential properties with federally-backed mortgages for 120 days.

Those protections expired at the end of July. They were revived and expanded once again in September when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide eviction moratorium that covered all rental properties.

Renters who filed a declaration of hardship with their landlord couldn't be evicted, although they were still technically responsible for paying rent. Landlords who tried to evict tenants in violation of this order could be subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and even jail time.

That moratorium, which didn't cover foreclosures, sparked numerous lawsuits challenging the CDC's controversial assertion that it could issue an eviction moratorium unilaterally.

The CDC's moratorium was originally set to expire at the end of 2020. Congress extended it through January as part of the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill it passed in late December. This short-term extension through the end of the Trump administration was supposed to bide time until Biden could be sworn in and issue his own extension of the CDC moratorium.

In order to justify its eviction moratorium, the CDC pointed to a provision in the Public Health Service Act that gives health officials the authority to make regulations "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."

Because evicted tenants might move into crowded living situations, spreading COVID-19 in those environments, the CDC reasoned that a total ban on evictions was, therefore, a "reasonably necessary" means of combating the pandemic.

Critics of the CDC's moratorium argue that the "reasonably necessary" provision was limited to actions related to those listed powers of disinfection, sanitation, etc. If it weren't, the CDC would have near-boundless powers to do whatever it wanted in the name of public health.

"I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that if [the CDC's] interpretation is accepted, it means the CDC can issue any of the same orders at all that any of the governors across the country have done," says Luke Wake, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), told Reason in October. "Business closures, micromanaging the economy, what we can do in our private circles. That would all be under their purview." The PLF is currently suing the CDC over its eviction moratorium.

Biden, as mentioned, is apparently not willing to lay claim to such sweeping powers, preferring to rely on Congress to act. That mitigates some of the legal concerns about eviction moratoriums. It still doesn't make them sound policy.

As Hamilton notes, there's both good reason and historical evidence to support the notion that landlords not more willing to evict non-paying tenants in bad economic times.

Some cities did see spikes in evictions in the late summer and early fall when moratoriums at all levels of government were allowed to lapse. But those bumps can plausibly be explained by the moratoriums themselves: Evictions that would have happened over the course of a few months were allowed to build up so that they happened all at once.

Suspending evictions until well into this year—as some states have already done and Biden is urging Congress to do for the entire country—could well produce the oft-predicted eviction "tsunami" these policies are supposed to prevent.

In addition to a renewed eviction ban, Biden is also calling on Congress to pass $30 billion in emergency assistance that tenants could use to pay their rent and utilities. This would come in addition to the $25 billion in rent and utility assistance that Congress passed last month.

That's an expensive proposition given the unprecedented deficits produced by the trillions in coronavirus relief appropriated thus far. Fiscal considerations notwithstanding, rental assistance is a far superior alternative to eviction moratoriums if the goal is to keep people housed during the pandemic.

Rental assistance programs, unlike moratoriums, don't negate the property rights of landlords. Nor do they force rental property owners to provide their product for free, potentially leaving them with little money to cover their own operating expenses. The more Congress spends helping renters cover their bills, the harder it is to justify extraordinary measures like bans on evictions.

Biden's call for both suggests that his recovery plan is less about dealing with the pandemic itself, and more about using the current crisis to push through long-sought liberal housing policy priorities.

NEXT: The Capitol Riot, Qualified Immunity, and Politics as Usual

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  3. The Trump administration relied on an expansive, legally tenuous view of its own executive authority when it issued a sweeping eviction moratorium in September.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………
    Those protections expired at the end of July. They were revived and expanded once again in September when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide eviction moratorium that covered all rental properties.

    Sure will be glad in a few days when all those exact same bureaucrats suddenly become the Biden Administration and we can blame Joe for all their actions.

    1. Hard to know whether to credit or blame the president or the “deep state” in many cases like this. Sometimes we can tell, like when there’s a particular action FDA takes regarding a particular product that seems to differ from their normal consideration of similar items, or when action on a regulation spans more than one administration.

      So do we or do we not blame Trump (for instance) for not leaning on the secretary of health and the attorney general to change their “findings” regarding the “potential for abuse” and/or medical utility of marijuana? And why would that be any different from getting election returns re-examined?

      1. In this case it’s pretty darn clear. Trump issued an Executive Order ordering the CDC to issue the eviction ban.

        1. If it is bad under trump, it is bad under Biden. I said it was bad under trump. Let’s see if you can do the same under Biden.

          1. Look here fellow cult member, it is known that we cult members have never criticized Trump. Even when we do criticize Trump, it doesn’t count, because all the lefty shits like Dee ignore it.

            So try again. Dee needs you to defend Trump here or the cognitive dissonance will throw her back into another one of her profanity laced outbursts that she’s been having so many of lately.

            1. I’m just trying to make him realize what a piece of shit hypocrite he is and start yelling what about ism like sarcasmic does when you show he’s a hypocrite.

          2. Indeed. Trump overstepped. This shouldn’t be happening at all. Let alone as a federal order. States shouldn’t even be doing it.

            And I highly doubt WK is capable of admitting democrats are wrong.

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  5. Q: So. Are landlords just having to taking it in the ass here? Are the banks also giving them a break?

    A: Are pigs flying? Not than I can see.

    1. Never mind. Tax payers covering for the renters.

      So. As always, taxpayers getting it in the pie hole.

    2. “Are pigs flying?”

      Nah. They’ve all been put on the no-fly list until after the inauguration for security reasons. Can’t be too careful when we are Protecting Our Democracy, don’t you know.

      The ban will probably become permanent as part of the GND. It will be included in the “Corks for Cows” provision as part of the Democrats’ noble effort to achieve zero net emissions by 2019.

  6. “Biden’s Recovery Plan Would Extend the Federal Government’s Extraordinary Eviction Ban Through September 2021”

    That’s almost the opposite of an economic recovery plan.

    1. SleepyJoe is going to fix the economy. DAY ONE!

      1. Even at his sharpest, he would have no clue how to fix the economy. There’s not one item in his plan that isn’t more likely than not to make things worse.

  7. Want to buy some income-generating rentals? Lots going on to the market, either by owner or through the foreclosure process.

    1. Where? The market here continues to increase. Been waiting to buy more.

      1. Everyone from California is coming to AZ.

        1. And it fucking blows, rents are soaring here.

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  8. “The conversion of eviction bans from an emergency public health measure to a semi-permanent economic relief measure….”. Christian, stop being so dense. The fact that renters had to file a declaration of hardship shows that this was never about public health.

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  9. If it’s apparent that a problem the tenant has with rent (I would think this to be an even more acute one with commercial than residential units now) is a temporary one, the landlord and tenant (or owner and lender) both know that and can work it out. Therefore the only impact these moratoria have is situations where someone gets to reside rent-free for life for the duration of the emergency and then skip out because they have no long term ability to sustain payments. And the danger is then that, seeing the “tsunami” coming at the end of that period, Congress will step in again, effectively grandfathering these residents indefinitely. Eventually Congress would wind up buying these units as a form of England’s municipal council housing.

    1. Why now though?
      Sure, state governors put a lot of people out of work, but unemployment benefits are far more generous than ever, and exceed hourly pay for a lot of laid off workers.
      People still working have lower expenses (nowhere to go) and stimulus cash.

  10. ALL of this is becoming permanent. It will become effectively illegal to operate a small business.

    1. Only if it has people on the premises.

    2. That is intentional. Too messy for democrats to control.

      Wipe them out while we can.

  11. March 1, 2121: “The Dr. Jill Biden Not Connected to the President Corporation (DJBNCPC) completes its program of buying up foreclosed apartment buildings in an effort to help mortgage-holding financial institutions.”

    March 2, 2121: “President Joe Biden issues an Executive Order ending the Federal eviction ban moratorium.”

    1. This. But 2021.

      We’re fascist now. It won’t be .Gov buying these distressed properties—although I can see something like a Resolution Trust arising if a market needs to be made—it’ll be connected large ‘private’ enterprises. The American middle class is (was?) a barrier to implementing the global changes in governance and property ownership. That is changing.

      1. The Neofeudalists have risen.

  12. How is a maoritorium on evictions even within the bounds of federal authority?

    I could accept federal housing programs not pursuing eviction but for a federal agency to declare it has power over private transactions not enumerated in the constitution just seems absurd.

    1. Ya think?

    2. “How is a maoritorium on evictions even within the bounds of federal authority?”

      It’s not. What are you, or anyone else, going to do about it?

      I love your spelling for moratorium, BTW. MAOritorium is very appropriate…

    3. In fact it’d seem to violate the bit about impairing obligations of contracts — but scholars think that may have applied only to contracts in force at the time the Constitution was adopted.

      1. Constitution? That moldy old rag?

    4. They invoked an emergency powers law passed in, like, 1948. “They”, by the way, was a specific person: “Most libertarian President in modern times” Donald J. Trump, in an Executive Order he issued to the CDC.

      1. What are you lying about now?

        1. He is actually right this time, but he only thinks it is bad apparently because trump did it. Notice he hasn’t criticized biden who says he will continue it or any of the democrats trying to get the same in the CARES act and other legislation.

          1. I just assume she’s lying.

            1. Just give her some time.

      2. Citing one EO does not make him other than the most libertarian POTUS in the lifetimes of anyone here, regardless of your TDS-addled bullshit.

      3. I think it was actually in the original CARES act, the moratoriums and the mortgage extensions – CARES, haha.
        The CDC then bumped the order up on its first expiration, to the renters only I believe, then Trump extended when it was about to expire as Pelosi and McConnell dickered over gender studies for the Pakis.
        Now it’s in the HEROES act (so BRAVE) and Sleepy will extend it but only to the renters so the Dems don’t have to face the onslaught of homelessness caused by their lockdowns while enjoying the low rental property bargains they can pick up on the foreclosure market.

      4. Trump was wrong. He’s also made other mistakes. But he’s still infinitely better than Usurper Biden.

  13. “No, we’re not going to turn the rest of the country into California” – Democrats

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  14. Who’da thought that Free Housing for All would beat Free Healthcare and Free College?

    1. SUVs for All.
      Everyone deserves safe, comfortable transportation.
      Plus you can live in if the eviction bans are ever ended.

  15. On Friday’s “PBS NewsHour,” incoming member of the Biden administration’s White House Council of Economic Advisers Heather Boushey stated that deficit spending can cover Biden’s coronavirus relief package, so how to pay for Biden’s economic agenda is “not tonight’s problem, but it’s certainly something that we’re going to be talking about in the weeks and months to come.”

    1. Boushey responded, “Well, that is certainly a very important question. So, for right now, we can afford to spend this package through deficit financing. But you’re right. Moving forward, we’re going to have to think about the fiscal situation. During the campaign, the president-elect outlined a whole series of tax increases focused primarily on those at the very top.

      Narrator: they weren’t for the very top.

      1. Of course not. That would be unfair.
        Everyone gets to pay more.

    2. “weeks and months to come” = for a few generations after Biden is out of office.

  16. “Eviction bans were enacted as an emergency public health measure. They’re quickly becoming a permanent policy.”

    At one time, this would not be a surprise to those who wrote for this magazine; times have changed.
    At one time, there would have been huge headlines in this magazine denouncing the tin-pot dictators like Newsom the day they instituted ‘lockdowns’; times have changed.

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    2. What is your evidence that anyone at Reason was surprised?

      1. HO2

      1. You are such a good little intern.
        Go get me some coffee.

        1. You’d drink something he gave you?

          1. Certainly not. Just something to keep her busy.

        2. Be careful. He considers water and sulfuric acid to be the same thing.

      2. Ah, yes, an article from 12/20 regarding actions begun in March of last year!
        Are you posting here to prove how much TDS can damage an already feeble mind? You’re doing a GREAT job!

        1. She is quite dumb.

      3. Lol. Such a useful little idiot.

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  19. , but the eroding of private property rights has always worked out so well. Yada Yada cultural revolution. Yada Yada kill all the landlords.

  20. From Reason who said the Great Recession didn’t exist. Down plays virus, death………what next?

    1. Ken S. posited earlier in one of the “orange man bad” threads that certain commenters are assumed to be dishonest, but that grants them far too much credit: Dishonesty requires a mind acute enough to recognize and reject fact.
      There are Tony, turd, M4e, jackass and others such as this imbecile here who qualify as incapable of that.
      They might be due some sympathy for their condition; it’s not easy getting along in a world full of information and data with a brain simply not equipped to really “think”.
      Regardless, they still need to be called on their idiocy; perhaps one or more might even become capable of critical thought, doubtful though that seems.

    2. They’ll probably say that half the country isn’t racist Nazis. As if.

    3. I thought you were dead Hihn.

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  23. Bidenism merely extends Trumpism. It’s ism all the way down.

    1. Old Man Bad?

      1. Old Bad Man

  24. Like rent control it will never end BUT there will be very well connected folks (the democratic NYC real estate elites) who will somehow get subsidizes or “special treatment.” If you are a normal guy in say Syracuse who buys some older ranch homes and rents them out as your income/job you are screwed…you don’t count in DC….but then again these folks are the “enemy” to the left. We should all be in 500 sq feet public housing unless you are “well connected.”…this should be a lesson to Reason wokes…

  25. That’s not YOUR rental property you paid for — That’s Democratic National Socialists PROPERTY and Joe Biden is the Dominant property owner.

  26. It’s almost like politicians could care less about property rights.

    1. You didn’t build that.

  27. Bad time to be a landlord. Or a bank lending money to landlords. Or a stockholder in a bank…

    1. Rent seeking is always a risky proposition.

  28. Biden can barely read a teleprompter, how is he going to manage anything?

    “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to fuck things up.” – Barry Sotero

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  29. I was told Apple could just boot Parler for shits and giggles because they were private. Private companies can just evict anyone yay! Oh well.

    Should landlords be mandated to forcibly quarantine his tenants who’s infected so he doesn’t spread it anywhere else? If they lose their jobs and have to pay for delivery charges to have all their groceries shipped home, then we shrug and say “tough luck, it’s public safety”

    There’s no court in this land that will deny back rent and credible claims of losses to landlords. States like CA will be forced to tax the life out of industries that still has a pulse or receive giant handouts from the feds. The worst managed states in the union makes a lot of money on intangible goods that aren’t tied down the states, and because lockdown cancels the perks of a expensive state (outdoor life, dining, “art” scene) the techies are leaving the state. Building with working internet in Texas = more money.

    No schools, no police, no housing, brain drain – that’s how a society becomes Venezuela. It cannot exist without a structural foundation. If landlords can’t collect rent on people living in their property, then a order of things that run the economy becomes completely undone.

    1. Don’t worry, renters may lose apartments, homeowners their homes, landlords their rental units, but the Federal government will always save the banks, just like last time. Crony capitalism is alive and well.

  30. I’m looking at the wall separating my home office from the empty apartment and wondering whether to knock it down, because there’s no way I can take the risk of renting the apartment out any time in the near future. If you have a two family house you don’t have much choice but to rent it out and take the risks (charging a risk premium). But accessory units (in-law apartments) are going to be coming off the market. ‘Politicians in my town are simultaneously crusading against evictions and crusading against the supposedly racist housing policies that make housing too expensive for minorities.

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  32. Recovery for landlords… not so much.

    But nevermind– forward, to the victory of communism!

  33. Well, that’ll show the kulacks and wreckers.

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  36. hope the plan running well

  37. Liberals will try to get a permanent eviction moratorium out of this pandemic as well as a UBI.

  38. Amazing news

  39. As more landlords are unable to pay their mortgage bills, taxes and maintenance costs rentals will be foreclosed upon. Foreclosed rentals will be sold. Who is to say whether those units will be placed for rent when their is no benefit in doing so. The future supply of apartments/homes for rent will decline. The housing shortage is going to be a nightmare. Who the hell thinks every landlord has the money to stay afloat forever? You have to be a complete moron.

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