Millions of renters in the U.S. lost a key protection keeping them in their homes on Aug. 26, 2021, with a Supreme Court ruling ending a national moratorium on eviction.
The federal stay on evictions was put in place during the coronavirus pandemic to protect renters falling behind on monthly payments and therefore in danger of needing to stay at homeless shelters or with friends or relatives. This pandemic response was designed to keep tenants in their housing, prevent overcrowding in shelters and homes, and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In early August, 7.9 million renter households reported being in arrears, with 3.5 million saying they were at risk of eviction within two months. The large number of tenants with rental debt and susceptible to displacement underscores the importance of protecting vulnerable renters during the pandemic.
As academic experts on homelessness and low-income housing at the University of Washington, we studied the housing experiences of low-income renters during the coronavirus pandemic. Our research found that even when a ban on evictions was in place, landlords still had ways to force, or at least encourage, renters to leave. Indeed, these so-called “informal evictions“—in which landlords harass tenants out of their homes—may even have increased as a result of the stay on evictions.