(WSYM) — A Washington D.C. judge ruled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped when the agency imposed a nationwide eviction ban under the Trump administration. The policy was then extended by the Biden administration and was set to expire at the end of June.
It's one of many rulings at various court levels during the pandemic. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer imposed an eviction ban as the virus began coursing through the state.
“We want to get this right, we don’t want landlords to lose buildings," Whitmer said. "We don’t want individuals to be convicted.”
Protests followed as extensions were debated with evictions pending. Whitmer's order disappeared after a state supreme court ruling nixed much of her executive orders. In its place was put the Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) with $50 million in rental aid.
"And it ran out at the end of 2020," said Matthew Paletz, a landlord attorney with Paletz Law. "It was operating county driven. Some counties did better than others."
Now, federal funding from COVID relief is starting to kick in after a back and forth between the governor and Michigan's legislature on how to spend the cash. Meanwhile, the pandemic isn't over and some argue a burden has been unfairly shouldered by landlords.
“No one expects you to go into a restaurant and then make the owner give you a meal for free. Ok? You don’t get to go to a grocery store and pick out what you want and say I’m good," Paletz said. "Why should rental housing be any different?”
On the other side, rental advocates argue that housing is not a luxury.
"The way that people treat renters is as though renters are consumers, and that housing is a commodified good," said Rachael Baker, an advocate with Detroit Renter City. "Going to a restaurant (and) getting a nice meal with a friend is definitely a luxury for most people. Housing is not a luxury."
Following the federal ruling, it's unclear what happens next. Appeals by the Biden administration are already in the works.
"Most likely they’re going to be granted a stay," Paletz said. "Which means that the ruling cannot be used throughout the country until such time as they have figured out what they’re going to do on appeal."
Baker adding, "What may end up happening in the next few days is a bit of an obviously valid panic, and watching out for misinformation that could get out to tenants that could result in people self evicting. Self-evicting means you could be pressured to move out; (you) don’t have to leave your rental unit.”
And the White House has said they will make an announcement about all of this soon. Meanwhile, both renters and landlords are caught in the push and pull of contradictory courtroom decisions.
For additional assistance, the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance program is there to help renters and landlords alike through this time. Click here for more information.