Feared Wave Of Evictions Hasn’t Happened—Yet

By Graison Dangor, Forbes Staff

Topline

Landlords have not been evicting tenants en masse as some advocates had feared after the Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s eviction moratorium in late August, according to reporting from the Associated Press, but new federal data shows that a large share of tenants are behind on rent and worry they’ll be evicted in the coming months.

Activists hold a protest against evictions near City Hall in New York City on August 11, 2021. Getty Images

Key Facts

After months of delays, states have begun sending out much more federal rent aid, the AP reported, helping 420,000 people in August compared to 340,000 in July

Seeing the federal aid coming in, some landlords have decided to wait some more for checks instead of evicting tenants, the AP reported.

Rental aid and eviction diversion programs run by state and local governments have also helped keep more people in their homes, Gene Sperling, who Biden assigned to supervise the disbursing of aid to state and local governments from the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill signed in March, told the AP.

Many renters are still far behind on their payments: In the second half of September, 14% of renters told the Census Bureau they were not caught up on payments and nearly 10% said they weren’t confident they would be able to pay the next month’s rent.

More than half of renters behind on their payments were late by more than a month, the Census Bureau reported, and more than half expected to be evicted in the next two months.

In the absence of a national moratorium, the Biden administration on Wednesday announced landlords would no longer be able to evict tenants in housing subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) without one month’s notice and telling them that they can apply for federal money to help pay their rent.

Crucial Quote

“What is out so far is certainly better than anyone’s previous best case scenario for the month after the moratorium,” Sperling told the AP. But “these numbers are still early, uncertain and there is likely additional pain and hardship not showing up in these reports,” he said.

Key Background

While there has been no federal eviction ban since August 27, when the Supreme Court overruled Biden’s executive order, six states still had a moratorium in place on October 1, according to Nolo, the legal publisher, and three states had rules against shutting off at least some utilities.

Big Number

544,000. That’s how many evictions landlords have filed since mid-March 2020 in just six states—Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and New Mexico— followed by the Eviction Tracking System at Princeton University.

What To Watch For

The vast majority of the rental assistance has still not been given out: States have sent out just $7.7 billion in rental aid so far in 2021 out of the $46.5 billion funded by pandemic aid bills signed in December and March. If money doesn’t continue to flow faster and faster, some landlords might lose patience and choose to evict tenants instead.

Further Reading

Eviction confusion, again: End of US ban doesn't cause spike (AP) 

Here's Where Renters Appear Most At Risk With Eviction Moratorium Overturned (Forbes)

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