Separation of Powers

Pioneer Institute Podcast on the Revised Federal Eviction Moratorium

Interviewer Joe Selvaggi and I explore the constitutional and policy issues at stake.

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In this new podcast produced by the Pioneer Institute, a Massachusetts-based think tank, interviewer Joe Selvaggi and I discuss the Biden administration's revised version of the federal eviction moratorium, and the issues it raises. Among other things, I explain why the new version of the moratorium has virtually all the same flaws as the  original one first adopted under the Trump administration and later extended by Biden,  and consider the recently filed Takings Clause lawsuit against the original moratorium (which could readily apply to the new one, as well).

I also note the large number of court decisions addressing the legality of the original moratorium, most of which went against the federal government. Like co-blogger Jonathan Adler, I think it's a mistake for commentators to focus too much on the badly flawed and somewhat aberrational pro-moratorium ruling by the DC Circuit.

Litigation on the revised moratorium is ongoing, and I expect we will begin seeing some court decisions on it in the near future.

 

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  1. Anyone think the eviction mortatorium had any effect on controlling the spread of covid.

    1. I am not aware of any study supporting the moratorium for any epidemiological benefit. Indeed, locking people down caused rates of infection to soar, as people breathed each other’s air indoors.

      1. The only thing you’re worse at than lawyering is doctoring.

    2. The issue was not to throw several million people out on the street during a pandemic for the sole reason that the rentier class has its “rights.”

      And yes, that would help stop the spread of COVID but that was not the only reason for having it.

      1. The issue is that there are constitutional ways to do things, and unconstitutional ways to do them.

        Suppose the government was concerned that people were having trouble affording food due to high unemployment from Covid lockdowns. Could they order the grocery stores to not prosecute anybody for shoplifting? Could they order grubhub to continue serving people who stiffed them on the bill?

        Not generally, no. If the government is concerned about starvation, it can directly provide food, or help pay for it, but can’t order food providers to let people steal it.

        That’s an exact parallel to what they did here to landlords: They forbid landlords from vindicating their legal right to be paid. They couldn’t evict squatters anymore.

        If they’d wanted to accomplish this end, they had a constitutional option: They could have paid the rent in place of the tenants. But they didn’t want to do that, they just told the landlords that they’d be punished if they didn’t let the tenants cheat them.

        1. And they came up with a dishonest smokescreen that the rents were still owed, just at the end of the moratorium, knowing full well that very little, if any, of this would ever be paid.

        2. Several observations:

          1. Property owners get to keep their property even after someone has occupied it longer than contract. If someone eats the goods of a grocery store they no longer have that inventory. Your analogy is badly flawed.

          2. The government is assisting people with rent, which is a benefit specifically for landlords. You can argue it is not enough but you can’t say that property owners are solely afflicted by policy. So basically the government is paying for the “groceries.”

          3. The pandemic is a natural disaster. It goes against our values of fairness that the lower-income classes — in other words those that have to rent because they cannot afford property — bear the most burden of coping with the disaster.

          Personally I feel that the bulk of landlord relief should be applied to the “small” landlords. For example people who are renting out their former home because they saved enough to buy another to live in but are still paying mortgages. That category is typically not cash rich. I don’t know if the government is doing enough for that class but I can well understand their resentment of an eviction moratorium.

          But it is not in the property owners interest to turn the communities in which they own property into sprawling homeless camps. It does nothing for property values. But that is likely what you would get if you didn’t have an eviction moratorium.

          1. 1. Grocery stores get to keep their buildings, too, even if people are taking food without paying for it. Every day stolen is a new loss. Enough losses, and you lose the property, too, if you have expenses, which you do.

            2. The government offers to assist people with rent, but the rent is routed through the tenants, not given directly to the landlords, and, strangely enough, the tenants seem no more interested in paying the landlords the government’s money, than their own. Much of the money was never distributed.

            And you don’t make an unconstitutional act constitutional by also doing something that might be constitutional, in addition to the violation.

            3. It goes against my values of fairness to make the landlords fall guys instead. Programs for the general welfare must be paid by the general population, not have the costs imposed on designated fall guys.

            And you’re not taking seriously the degree to which the refusal to pay rent was pretextual. There are an enormous number of tenants who are now walking around exposed to perjury prosecutions, because they filed those papers under penalty of perjury, and many of them falsely.

            1. The problems with assistance to property owners you are pointing out are valid ones. It doesn’t make sense to me to have the money remitted to the renter (who pockets it and accumulates legal exposure) and not the property owner.

              But I think they were trying to avoid the level of BS that surrounded the so-called PPP loans, where you had wealthy people applying and squandering the money on yacht payments and similar abuses instead of paying people.

              Still, it is clear that the government’s intent was not to rape property owners simply to hand out goodies to the unwashed lazy shiftless underclasses who do nothing but mooch off of True Hardworking Americans. They were responding to a true emergency.

          2. 1. Property owners get to keep their property even after someone has occupied it longer than contract. If someone eats the goods of a grocery store they no longer have that inventory. Your analogy is badly flawed.

            No; the property owner permanently loses that month’s use of the property.

            The government is assisting people with rent,

            The government isn’t doing so. The rental assistance that has been appropriated is a program for renters, not for landlords. The landlord can’t access the money unless the renter does the work to get it, and the renter doesn’t have much incentive to do so if he can just choose to live there rent-free indefinitely.

            3. The pandemic is a natural disaster. It goes against our values of fairness that the lower-income classes — in other words those that have to rent because they cannot afford property — bear the most burden of coping with the disaster.

            I think you have weird values about fairness. See Grasshopper, The Ant And The.

            But it is not in the property owners interest to turn the communities in which they own property into sprawling homeless camps. It does nothing for property values. But that is likely what you would get if you didn’t have an eviction moratorium.

            Why would you assume that property owners would act against their interests?

          3. “Personally I feel that the bulk of landlord relief should be applied to the “small” landlords. ”
            But no one died and let you king.
            “It goes against our values of fairness that the lower-income classes”
            You are not the arbiter of social fairness. Also you know nothing about the economic conditions of the owners, the sizes of their mortgages, etc. Lots of assumptions, but little basis in facts.
            “The government is assisting people with rent”
            less than 10% of the appropriate money has been paid out and the appropriation is $0.30 on the dollar. So No, the government is not assisting people with rent , it is exercising a taking from landlords.

          4. What a stupid analogy. Housing is a “service,” so the grocery analogy fails. Every month someone has lived in it without paying is a month you don’t ever get back. That’s like saying skipping out on your taxi fare is not stealing because the driver still has a cab.

            You’re a fucking moron.

          5. Several observations

            You should have stopped there. What followed it served only as what should be a major source of embarrassment for you.

      2. The fact that you use scare quotes around private property rights says all we need to know about you.

        1. The fact that you don’t understand what the scare quotes signify says all we need to know about you.

          1. I understand it fully. You don’t think people have real rights to throw people who are not paying them out of their property.

            1. Thank you for proving my assertion that you do not understand.

          2. The fact that you don’t understand what the scare quotes signify

            And the fact that you even refer to them as scare quotes…..

      3. It only would have helped if they went into a relative’s house and increased the density there.

        If they had become homeless, it arguably would have helped.

        But I don’t think that’s a good intent here.

  2. Good job feminists, you voted for him. Biden, the traitor, handed over Afghanistan to the terrorists. Now, all 12 year old girls will be taken from 6th grade, and given to stinky 60 year old Taliban as sex slaves. Those people do not use toilet paper.

    Next? Handing over Taiwan to China.

    Next? A major terror attack on the US by Al Qaeda from Afghanistan.

    Next? The woke in the US are rounded up. Their leaders and oligarchs are arrested, tried and executed.

    1. 70s feminists who attacked Muslim cultures around the world as oppressive of their sisters were silenced starting in the early 2000s, because it got in the way of their fellow leftists looking for votes of those from those oppressed cultutes coming here.

      Who the **** cares about the millions, 38 in this case, who aren’t coming here?

      Is there a coupon for a diverse purchase of a child sex slave?

    2. David,
      At least the Taliban won’t put a mask mandate on women.

  3. Somin would be all for the moratorium if the landlords’ seized property was used to house semi-literate 85 IQ mestizos.

    1. Actually, I doubt that. He’d be more likely to deny they were benefiting more often than actual Americans.

      1. Good point. His arguments are steeped in transparent bad faith.

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