Some of the biggest changes to the law in the pandemic have been in the area of housing. Last March a moratorium on almost all evictions was put in place. While a few exceptions were made in the original moratorium, and in the months after the moratorium was put in place, it remains impossible to evict for non payment of rent, most violations of leases, or because a lease has expired. There are strong policy reasons in favor of limiting evictions, people moving out of housing and into other housing, often with family or friends does spread disease. Backers of the moratorium argue that with many people out of work especially low paid workers in the hospitality industry, they should not lose their housing because their employers are closed due to no fault of their own. Landlords argue that by being forced to house people even if they are not paying rent they are bearing all of the burden for what should be a social responsibility, they say that if the government does not want people to be evicted the taxpayers should pay their rent, instead of telling property owners to provide free housing. Even if a tenant is not paying rent, owners are still required to pay property taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, and, in many cases, mortgage payments. As an owner of rental properties myself, having represented both landlords and tenants, and knowing how tough this last year had been for many people, I can see both sides of the argument.
However one comes down on the moratorium, it is the law at this time, and, those who do not follow it can be subject to criminal prosecution. Landlords, and tenants should know that it does not prevent all evictions, tenants can still be evicted for serious damage to property, threatening the safety of neighbors, serious illegal activity, or, if the landlord wants to move themselves, or a family member into the property. If you are a landlord, or a tenant in one of these situations tread carefully and get good advice.