The Statutory Authority for the Nationwide Eviction Moratorium
Today, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention filed a notice in the Federal Register. The order purports “to temporarily halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.” No, not just in federal housing. Nationwide.
Under this Order, a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person3 with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any jurisdiction to which this Order applies during the effective period of the Order.
CDC argues that keeping people in their homes will prevent the spread of COVID-19:
In the context of a pandemic, eviction moratoria—like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing—can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease. Eviction moratoria facilitate self-isolation by people who become ill or who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition. They also allow State and local authorities to more easily implement stay-at-home and social distancing directives to mitigate the community spread of COVID-19.
Landlords who evict tenants to qualify for this program face fines of up to $100,000 and a year in prison.
What is the authority for this sweeping order? The thirty-seven page notice cites a single regulation: 42 CFR § 70.2. It provides:
Whenever the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines that the measures taken by health authorities of any State or possession (including political subdivisions thereof) are insufficient to prevent the spread of any of the communicable diseases from such State or possession to any other State or possession, he/she may take such measures to prevent such spread of the diseases as he/she deems reasonably necessary, including in
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