There have been several court cases and other actions related to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on tenant evictions.
The CDC’s order, originating on September 4, 2020 and currently running through June 30, 2021, prohibits the eviction of certain tenants from residential property for nonpayment of rent. The order includes criteria a tenant must meet to qualify for this protection from eviction. The order does not relieve any tenant of the obligation to pay rent. The order also does not prohibit evictions for other reasons. Some local jurisdictions have imposed eviction moratoriums as well.
Texas Supreme Court
The Texas Supreme Court has provided guidance to lower courts in Texas stating that it is not the place of courts in Texas to enforce the CDC moratorium. However, the guidance noted that the CDC’s order imposes federal civil and criminal penalties for landlords who violate the moratorium. It’s not known yet whether such penalties would be upheld by the courts given the current legal challenges to the CDC order.
Rent Assistance in Texas
The Texas Rent Relief Program can help renters with past due, current, and up to three months of expected rent costs; expected utility; and home energy expenses starting as far back as March 13, 2020. The program has $1.3 billion to assist with tenants’ unpaid expenses related to housing. The program began accepting applications February 15, 2021 and will continue to do so until the funds run out. Landlords and tenants can go to texasrentrelief.com to learn more, create an account, and submit a now-simplified application. The monthly rent limit that may be received by applicants has been updated to $4,600. Tenants facing eviction are now prioritized for application review and can self-certify to show their income, and landlords can self-certify to show ownership and a relationship between the landlord and a management company. Those needing assistance can call 833-989-7368.
Challenges to the CDC Moratorium
Numerous federal lawsuits have been filed challenging the CDC moratorium. Several courts have ruled the order to be an overreach of power by the CDC; however, those rulings have thus far only had narrow applications. In one case filed in Texas, the court stated that the CDC went beyond its authority, but the court did not impose an injunction on the moratorium. Texas REALTORS® is monitoring these and other cases and will assess opportunities to support those efforts.
Advocacy Efforts to Support Housing Providers
The National Association of REALTORS® is part of a coalition of housing industry groups that is advocating for housing providers who have been negatively affected by the eviction moratorium due to loss of rent payments. NAR has been working with federal agencies to provide rental assistance programs to ensure that housing providers can receive long-overdue rental payments.