Late on August 26, 2021, in a 6-3 unsigned decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lacks the authority to impose a nationwide moratorium on evictions. While State restrictions may still apply, the Supreme Court’s decision prohibits tenants from raising the CDC Eviction Moratorium as a defense and has opened the doors to evictions for nonpayment of rent.
In March of 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included a 120-day eviction moratorium for rental properties that received federal funding and/or were subject to federally backed loans. The moratorium was initially set to expire on July 24, 2020, after Congress decided that a ban on evictions was no longer warranted.
However, despite Congress’ decision not to extend the prohibition on evictions, the CDC unilaterally decided that it had the power to do so, and extended the moratorium three separate times in March, June, and July 2021.
The CDC claimed it had the authority to extend the eviction moratorium under §361(a) of the Public Health Service Act, which provides in relevant part…
'The Surgeon General, with approval of the [Secretary of Health and Human Services], is authorized to make and enforce such regulations as in his judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the States or possessions, or from one State or possession into any other State or possession. For purposes of carrying out and enforcing such regulations, the Surgeon General may provide for such inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, destruction of animals, or articles found to be so infected or contaminated as to be sources of dangerous infection to human beings, and other measures, as in his judgment may be necessary.'