US federal judge lets Biden eviction moratorium can remain


A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that the Joe Biden administration’s revised eviction moratorium can remain in place for the time being, but said those challenging it can continue with their litigation in an appellate court.

On Friday, US District Judge Dabney Friedrich denied a request from various landlord associations that she block the moratorium, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 in June to allow an earlier iteration of the moratorium to continue.

At that time, though, Justice Brett Kavanaugh indicated that absent of congressional legislation, he would not concur with allowing further extensions of the moratorium beyond its expiration date of July 31.

Following the original moratorium’s collapse due to Congress lacking the vote to extend it legislatively, the UCenters for Disease Control and Prevention on August 3 issued a revised moratorium effective through October 6 that focuses on areas of high Covid-19 transmission risk, prompting two landlord groups in Alabama and Georgia to seek Friedrich’s intervention.

Friedrich said in Friday’s ruling that her hands were tied because of an existing order by an appellate court, from the previous round of litigation, allowing the moratorium to continue.

“The Supreme Court did not issue a controlling opinion in this case, and circuit precedent provides that the votes of dissenting Justices may not be combined with that of a concurring Justice to create binding law,” she wrote, adding the challengers will need to turn to the appellate court.

Handing landlords a victory, the Supreme Court ordered in a separate case on Thursday to temporarily lift part of New York state’s eviction moratorium put in place during the pandemic.

While the unsigned order blocked the state’s measure that precluded landlords from challenging a tenant’s self-certified claim of financial hardship – an attestation that had automatically paused eviction proceedings under the policy – it does not interfere with a tenant’s ability to mount a so-called hardship defence in an eviction court proceeding.

In the order, which will remain in place while a legal challenge proceeds in a New York-based federal appeals court, the majority wrote that the policy appeared to violate landlords’ due process right to a hearing in the face of a tenant’s claimed inability to pay rent.