At least eight states plan to continue protecting tenants from being evicted for not paying their rent when the federal eviction moratorium expires at the end of June.
The latest move came in Hawaii on Monday, when Democratic Gov. David Ige extended the islands’ moratorium for two months.
“We want to make sure that those in need can apply for and get the need and mediate any problems so that we can stop the overwhelming sense of evictions that may occur at the end of the moratoriums,” said Ige in a video interview with the Star Advertiser.
Tenants and housing advocates are calling for extensions, while landlords and realtors fight to end state and federal eviction moratoriums in court.
At the start of the pandemic, state and local officials noted the importance of housing stability to stop the spread of COVID-19. Governors, legislators and courts across 43 states, five U.S. territories and Washington, D.C., issued eviction moratoriums, according to Eviction Lab, a research organization at Princeton University.
Following the expiration of many state eviction moratoriums, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a federal order in September, which was extended in March through June 30.
In most states, the CDC moratorium is the only measure blocking landlords from evicting tenants who are unable to pay rent and would not have another safe housing option if they were to be evicted.
More than 3 million renters nationwide said in mid-May that they were somewhat or very likely to be evicted within the next two months, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey.
As of June 8, 16 states had standing moratoriums. Only half of these state moratoriums will continue to be in place when the federal moratorium ends unless they are extended, according to data collected by Eviction Lab partners.
New York has extended its moratorium until September for tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19 or for people whose health could be at risk if made to move.
New Jersey will continue to halt evictions until two months after its state of emergency ends. This week, Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed an order that ends the majority of executive orders put in place as a result of COVID-19 on July 4.
In Vermont, renters will continue to have eviction protections until at least July 4, according to a report from Vermont Public Radio.
Oregon's eviction ban will expire at the same time as the federal eviction ban, but landlords still will be prohibited from evicting tenants for rent owed between April 2020 and June 2021. Renters will have a deadline of the end of next February to pay their back rent.
Tenant advocates in California, Oregon and Washington state are calling for extensions on statewide eviction moratoriums.
“We urge you to extend the moratorium until counties can demonstrate they are able to prevent evictions,” wrote dozens of housing advocacy groups in a joint letter to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month.
“There are 400,000 renters in Washington who are current on rent but who are hanging by a thread,” said the letter, which was published by The Seattle Times.
Landlords have been outspoken about ending moratoriums. Renters owed landlords $30 billion to $70 billion in back rent at the end of December, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which advocates for expanding affordable housing.
“I have a resident who owes me $8,900, there is no way he is going to catch up,” said Stephanie Graves, a property manager and owner in Houston. “Ultimately, we’re business owners; you would never allow someone to go into a grocery store and take everything they wanted and leave and not pay for it,” she added.
“But yet we are asked to let somebody live in the apartment, utilize the resources, the staffing and the space at no cost to them, as long as they want as long as they sign an addendum.”
In May, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled the CDC overstepped its legal authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium. An appeal by the Department of Justice is still pending.