President Joe Biden’s administration announced a new moratorium on evictions Tuesday — three days after the previous federal moratorium expired.
The new moratorium, which will last for 60 days, is narrower than the previous Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium, which protected any American renter who could prove an eligible COVID-19-related impact.
The new eviction ban applies only to counties with high rates of COVID-19 transmission, reflecting where the CDC recommends vaccinated resident masks indoors and in public settings.
All Arizona counties fall into this category as of Aug. 3.
“The emergence of the delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated. This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
The moratorium only applies to evictions filed for nonpayment of rent. Landlords can still seek evictions for other issues, like criminal activity on the property.
Phoenix-area evictions:Why landlords still filed for almost 30,000 during pandemic
In the three days without an eviction moratorium, metro Phoenix did not see a huge increase in eviction activity, according to court and constable officials.
Landlords filed for 71 evictions in Maricopa County Justice Courts on Monday. Courts spokesperson Scott Davis said the number was not significantly different than in past months or years.
Story from Zenb
The benefits of pasta made from yellow peas
The yellow pea is powering more sustainable pasta with the same delicious taste.
See More →
The new moratorium will prevent landlords from pursuing forcible removal of tenants, even if they already began the eviction process.
Maricopa County Justice Courts have suggested to justices of the peace that they offer a continuance for Wednesday’s evictions hearings for a day or two to give officials time to determine what changes are needed for the eviction process, if any, according to Davis.
“This is the problem with last minute orders — they do not take into consideration all of the preparation that goes into an eviction case,” Davis wrote in an email.
“Changing one part of the process has a ripple effect which goes both ways: it affects the paperwork that has already been filed, and the decisions which landlords, tenants, and judges make from that point on,” he said. “Those decisions, in turn, call up specific forms and computer processes which must now be changed again. Those things do not take place suddenly.”
Access the digital replica of USA TODAY and more than 200 local newspapers with your subscription.
Read Now in the e-Edition
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court forbade President Joe Biden’s administration from extending the original moratorium, which had been in effect since September.
“It’s shocking that President Biden would ignore that ruling and again force property owners – many of whom have not been paid rent in 17 months – to face financial jeopardy and potential bankruptcy,” said Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus, president and CEO of the Arizona Multifamily Association.
In a news conference Tuesday, Biden said legal experts he consulted disagree on whether the new moratorium will hold up in court.
He said he expects the moratorium will be challenged in court, but said the time it will take for the litigation to play out will give states and cities more time to disburse rental assistance to struggling renters.
‘Never get a human on the phone’:Months later, family still waiting on rental aid
The federal government has given the state and some Arizona counties and cities almost $900 million this year to help struggling residents with their rent and utilities, which should be enough to erase all rental debt in the state, according to estimates.
2 killed and 2 injured in Mesa nightclub shooting
Century-old Phoenix Union Station could see new life
Arizona Party Bike founder wrote law to make his business legal
Inside one of Charlie Kirk’s Freedom Night in America events
But only a small fraction of that assistance has reached residents in need. Programs cite burdensome documentation requirements for the sluggish pace of assistance.
Nearly 10,000 rental aid applications were pending across the five largest rental aid programs in the state as of late July.
The Republic’s Ralph Chapoco contributed.
Coverage of housing insecurity on azcentral.com and in The Arizona Republic is supported by a grant from the Arizona Community Foundation.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or 480-694-1823. Follow her on Twitter @jboehm_NEWS.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.
AUTHOR: Jessica Boehm