In a move it finalized on Friday of last week, the Trump administration banned many evictions through the end of the year. Readers furrowed their brows in puzzlement when they learned which part of the government this decision was coming from: the Centers for Disease Control.
Does the law authorize this public-health agency to ban evictions? No, not really, and the courts should not let this stand.
Under the CDC’s notice, a tenant can prevent himself from being evicted by giving his landlord a copy of a federal form. On this form, the tenant must declare, under penalty of perjury, that he has tried to obtain any government assistance that’s available to pay the rent; falls within the income requirements (meaning he qualified for a stimulus payment, didn’t have to file taxes last year, or expects to earn $99,000 or less this year — twice that for couples); is unable to pay rent thanks to loss of income or large medical expenses; is trying to make partial payments; and will become homeless or have to “live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting” if evicted.
The rule doesn’t stop these tenants’ rent bills from piling up, but it does allow them to stay in their homes through the end of the year whether they pay those bills or not. Good luck collecting the money after that, unless the federal government steps in to foot the bill. Landlords who violate the rule can be hit with a $100,000 fine and a year in jail.