Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide eviction moratorium. While most commentators have focused on the economic plight of renters during the pandemic, the Court noted that “many landlords have modest means” and that millions of them around the country are “at risk of irreparable harm by depriving them of rent payments with no guarantee of eventual recovery.” A CBS news story from two days ago highlights one of them.
Brandie LaCasse, an Air Force veteran and single mother, owns a house that she cannot live in because her tenants refuse to move out or pay rent. Despite more than $23,000 in arrears, LaCasse couldn’t evict her tenants because of state and federal eviction moratoriums. She and her daughter have effectively become homeless, forced to live out of her car and stay with friends. LaCasse’s tenant complains of her own financial hardship in the story, making it clear she is unlikely ever to pay back the rent due.
Compounding the tragedy is that both the landlord and the tenant could have obtained economic relief if the government functioned with even a modicum of competence. Federal Emergency Rental Assistance funds have been available to pay the rent of low-income tenants since December. But the Treasury acknowledges that only 10 percent of the $46.55 billion available has been distributed.
Meanwhile, Brandie LaCasse and thousands, perhaps millions, more like her are being driven into financial ruin. The eviction moratorium must end. Small landlords of modest means are no less deserving of legal and financial protection than their tenants.