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EDITORIAL: Time to finally let federal eviction ban lapse

Nevada’s pandemic eviction ban ended June 1, but the Biden administration extended the federal moratorium until the end of this month. With that date fast arriving, local activists worry about a “flood” of evictions once delinquent renters are no longer shielded.

Rumaldo Chaidez of the Chicanos Por La Causa Nevada told the Review-Journal this week that his group is working to help clients apply for housing assistance passed by Congress as part of the CARES Act. Mediation is also available to renters whose landlords have run out of patience. These programs are worthwhile to assist the vulnerable.

But let’s remember that any large upturn in the number of evictions — if that happens — is the inevitable result of the moratorium in the first place. Once temporary regulatory barriers imposed on the market are removed — whether on Aug. 1 or at some future date — a correction is unavoidable. Older Americans will remember the fiasco of President Richard Nixon’s wage-and-price controls in the 1970s.

In addition, property owners too often get lost in this debate. Many smaller landlords rely on their rental properties to get by or to supplement limited retirement incomes. While tenants have been able to avoid their monthly payments, the property owners have no such protection and still must meet their obligations, which can include mortgage, tax and utility payments. Yes, large institutional landlords may be able to weather the financial losses associated with an eviction ban, but those with one or two properties have felt real hardship during the moratorium.

Predictably, leftist activists are pressuring the White House to reverse course and extend the federal ban into August and even September. But the courts probably would frown on such a move. The federal order — first issued in September by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under former President Donald Trump — is on shaky constitutional footing. Six federal appeals courts have ruled that the agency vastly exceeded its authority with the moratorium (three have reached the opposite conclusion), and the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a challenge to the ban in June only because it was set to sunset in the weeks ahead.

Even with the delta variant thriving in Las Vegas and other places, economic activity has resumed, and the job market is strong for those who need employment. In addition, the trillions in coronavirus relief money include ample resources to help those who remain unable to pay their housing costs. After nearly a year, landlords deserve to have their property rights reinstated. The Biden administration should stand firm and allow the moratorium to lapse on Sunday.

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