NLIHC, NHLP Send Letter to HUD Detailing its Legal Authority on Eviction Moratorium

NLIHC and the National Housing Law Project (NHLP), along with 168 other organizations, sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson on July 20 stating that HUD has the legal authority to enact an eviction moratorium to protect low-income renters assisted by various HUD programs. HUD has a moral obligation to enact an eviction moratorium in anticipation of a gap between the CARES Act eviction protections ending on July 24 and a possible extension of the eviction moratorium and/or emergency rental assistance in the HEROES Act. A gap in coverage, even for a few days, will leave tenants vulnerable to housing instability, eviction, and homelessness.  

Congress authorized the HUD Secretary to “make such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out his functions, powers, and duties.” In light of the declared public health emergency, HUD has the power to declare a moratorium on eviction for all of its programs for the duration of the emergency. The letter cites statutory provisions for the Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and HUD-assisted multifamily programs, each prohibiting evictions or terminating assistance, except for “good cause.” Furthermore, because the those “good cause” eviction provisions are defined by HUD regulations, HUD can redefine good cause by rule in light of the pandemic emergency or HUD can waive any contrary regulatory eviction provisions or “good cause” definitions, since any right to evict is not mandated by statute. 

The letter adds that if Congress fails to provide additional protections for renters, HUD should prohibit filing eviction actions based on notices to vacate that were served for a period (e.g., one year) following the expiration of the 30-day notice period in the CARES Act (August 24). 

The letter is at: