Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and local governments have adopted varying moratoria on evictions, enacted as emergency legislative protections for tenants facing eviction. The federal moratorium on eviction, promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is set to expire on July 31. While the Supreme Court recently left the moratorium in place, the Court signaled that it would likely be held unconstitutional if extended and challenged again. With the sole federal moratorium expiring, state and local protections may remain in effect; however, many of these local orders are also beginning to expire. Washington, DC’s eviction moratorium, one of the most tenant-friendly pieces of emergency legislation in the country, is one such example, beginning a phaseout process that allows the pace of evictions to slowly begin throughout 2021 before a final legislative sunset in February 2022.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council of the District of Columbia and Mayor Muriel Bowser enacted a series of public health emergency legislation. Under the Coronavirus Omnibus Emergency Amendment Act of 2020, the Council put a pause on evictions for nonpayment of rent or violations of lease provisions, prohibiting landlords from filing a complaint to evict a tenant who detained “possession of real property without right” or whose “right to possession has ceased.” Under the moratorium, the Council effectively banned residential evictions, unless a court found that a tenant had performed an “illegal act” within the rental unit, that the tenant was causing undue hardship on the health, welfare, and safety of other tenants or neighbors, or that the tenant had abandoned the premises. The moratorium and other tenant-protections were initially set to remain in place indefinitely, expiring 60 days after the end of Mayor Bowser’s declared COVID-19 emergency period.