A Moratorium on Earning a Living: Why the Federal Eviction Moratorium Should Not be Extended

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Posted by Bryan Bashur on Monday, August 2nd, 2021, 6:35 PM PERMALINK

Extending the federal eviction moratorium, as Congressional Democrats and President Biden are proposing to do, is a case of unnecessary federal overreach that will harm property owners and continue disincentivizing people to return to work. 

Just last week, House Democrats scrambled to pull together enough votes to pass H.R. 4791, the Protecting Renters from Evictions Act, a bill to extend the moratorium through December. Ultimately, the House did not vote on the bill and recessed for the weekend—allowing the moratorium to expire on July 31. 

Previous decisions by a federal appellate court and the Supreme Court ruled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lacked the authority to mandate the moratorium, so any attempt by President Biden to extend the moratorium by executive fiat would be unconstitutional. 

The worst thing Congress could do right now is incentivize Americans to stay at home and not search for a job. 

Under the now-expired moratorium, tenants qualified if they earned less than $99,000 (or jointly $198,000) in 2020, were unable to pay rent because of substantial loss of income, if eviction would put them in a position of homelessness, or if they may have been exposed to COVID. 

Continuing the moratorium is an enormous cost to landlords and carries with it severe penalties if they fail to follow the rule. Landlords with mortgages have a debt service to pay on a timely basis. Without steady rental income, landlords could lose their residences to the banks. And if individual landlords fail to follow the CDC’s rule, they risk criminal penalties ranging from $100,000-$500,000 per event and one year in jail. 

The vilification of landlords in the media and by Democrats has skewed Americans’ view of who actually owns most rental properties. The landlords losing rental income are in fact not large corporations, but individuals who earn less than six figures. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the vast majority of rental properties in the United States are owned by small individual investors, not large corporations. Out of 20 million rental properties counted by the Census Bureau, 14.3 million, or 71.6% are owned by individual investors. On average, these landlords earn approximately $73,600 per year

The federal government should not be providing more reasons for Americans to stay at home and collect welfare checks right now. The moratorium is not the only help provided to Americans – the federal government currently provides an additional $300 per week federal unemployment insurance—a subsidy that is making Americans complacent in their unemployment. Democrats previously gave people a $600 per week additional payment in the CARES Act passed last year and have provided several stimulus payments totaling $3,000. 

recent study by Ways and Means Republicans found that a family of four with both parents out of work will receive almost $110,000 from the federal government between April 2020 and September 2021. A family of four with one person unemployed would receive $67,824. 

Job opportunities also currently exist – the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that there were 9.2 million job openings.

Hardworking taxpayers will continue to have to subsidize people who are more than happy to live off of what Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats are willing to give them. 

Americans that lost their jobs due to the pandemic should and have received assistance from the federal government. However, the government should not be in the business of regulating contracts between tenants and landlords. The Democrat effort to extend this moratorium through the end of the year is unnecessary and will continue their pattern of subsidizing people not to work.

 

Photo Credit: Bruce.Emmerling

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