Tracie and Myles Albert thought their life had changed for the better when they purchased a $650,000 home in Riverside, California, in January of last year.
They never imagined their dream home quickly would become a nightmare.
The couple were scheduled to move in early last year, when pandemic restrictions first were implemented in California and throughout the country. But when the Alberts arrived to claim their new home, the original owner refused to leave, according to KCAL-TV, which didn’t identify the first owner.
As any responsible homeowners would do, the Alberts tried to evict the previous resident, but he was protected by California’s then-recently imposed moratorium on evictions.
However, that didn’t prevent the Alberts from being responsible for any housing payments paid up front, plus a hefty mortgage. In essence, the guy who sold his house to the couple is staying in what is now their home for free while the Alberts keep fighting to move in.
“He’s committed fraud,” Myles Albert lamented to KCAL. “He’s robbed us of our life savings.”
Eviction moratoriums were designed to help people struggling the most during the pandemic. With so many losing their job as a result of state-imposed lockdowns, a mass string of evictions would have been nothing short of catastrophic.
On the other hand, property owners are people, too, and their needs should be considered. Many of them live off of the rents they charge. Furthermore, the broad scope of California’s moratorium puts the real estate market — and by extension homeowners such as Tracie and Myles Albert — in danger.
But while California’s moratorium is simply bad policy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide and seemingly endless eviction prohibition could be unconstitutional.
Three different federal judges ruled against the CDC’s eviction moratorium before the issue arrived at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which ripped the regulation.
The ruling states that the judges “cannot read the Public Health Service Act to grant the CDC the power to insert itself into the landlord-tenant relationship without some clear, unequivocal textual evidence of Congress’s intent to do so. Regulation of the landlord-tenant relationship is historically the province of the states.”
The ruling went on to say that “it is an ordinary rule of statutory construction that if Congress intends to alter the usual constitutional balance between the States and the Federal Government, it must make its intention to do so unmistakably clear in the language of the statute.”
Sadly, as the libertarian outlet Reason explains, this ruling probably isn’t as strong as necessary. It is “not a final decision on the merits of the case,” but a rejection of the federal government’s motion to stay the district court rulings until the Sixth Circuit is finished assessing them.
Fortunately, the appeals court does send a clear signal that the federal government doesn’t have a strong case, and that it likely will lose.
In response, states such as Texas are leading the way in halting enforcement of the moratorium altogether — to the chagrin of those who believe tenants should have unrestrained power over their landlords.
NEW: The Texas Supreme Court has quietly ended enforcement of the national CDC eviction moratorium statewide.
Courts are no longer authorized by SCOTX to abate cases based on the CDC moratorium, according to Texas Justice Court Training Center guidance.https://t.co/ykHgrMETkh
— Jen Rice (@jen_rice_) April 2, 2021
More than anything, it is evident that the pandemic has opened numerous avenues for government expansion into our daily lives, but many of us have known that for a long time.
Hopefully, something will change, and families such as the Alberts will receive the justice they deserve.
The next court date in their eviction case is scheduled for June, according to KCAL.
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