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LEGAL UPDATES

Eviction Moratorium Ends in Mississippi

On August 26, 2021, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding a District Court’s Judgment vacating CDC’s Second Eviction Moratorium.  The Second Moratorium had prevented the eviction of any tenants who live in counties that are experiencing substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission and who make certain declarations of financial need.  The Court held that the CDC did not have the authority to do this. 

The Moratorium began in March of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act.  One of the programs included was a 120-day Eviction Moratorium for properties that participated in federal assistance programs or were secured by federally- backed mortgage loans.  Congress did not extend the eviction ban when it expired on June 25, 2020.  At that time, the CDC acted and issued an Order temporarily halting residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.  This Order covered all residential properties nationwide and imposed criminal penalties on violators.  

Congress extended the CDC Eviction Moratorium for one month in 2021.  When that expired, the CDC extended the Eviction Moratorium through March, then June and then July, 2021 when it expired.  When the Moratorium expired, Congress did not re-authorize it.  On August 3, 2021, the CDC issued a new Order temporarily halting residential evictions in communities with substantial or high levels of community transmission of COVID-19.  It was on this extension that the Supreme Court held that the CDC Order was too broad and properly struck it down due to lack of clear Congressional authority.  The Court did invite the Congress to consider renewing an Eviction Moratorium.  It is unknown whether Congress will act now that the Supreme Court has again invited it to do so.  Without Congressional action, there is no current federally-imposed Eviction Moratorium.  

Landlords can apply for Federal Funds granted to the states to satisfy their tenant’s rental obligations before they initiate eviction actions, and local and state government authorities can create an eviction ban.  Mississippi as a state has not done so. Landlords should check with their local authorities to make sure there is no ban before commencing an eviction. (However, it would be presumed that the Justice Court to whom the eviction was submitted would know that and would deny the eviction.)  There is in force until September 30 a prohibition by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (FHHA), banning Landlords of Multifamily units backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Macfrom evicting tenants.  

Mississippi does have a rental assistance program and a Mississippi Utility Assistance Program which is funded by monies granted by the Federal Government.  Indications are that even during the Moratorium, Mississippi evictions did continue in Justice Court.  

Landlords should, before commencing an eviction, be sure that Congress has not enacted a new ban on such legal proceedings, as well as making sure that the state and local authorities have not done so.  It may be more beneficial to the Landlord, if available, to apply for a federal grant for rental assistance through the state, rather than simply evicting the tenant. The State Agency that would probably be in charge of this is the Mississippi Home Corporation, 735 Riverside Drive, Jackson, Mississippi 39302, telephone number (601) 718-4636.

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