Missouri Lawmakers Propose Ban on Eviction Bans

A number of states have seen their pandemic-era eviction moratoriums morph from an emergency stopgap measure into institutionalized limits on evictions. Missouri is not one of them.

Show-Me State is one of eight states that didn’t adopt an eviction moratorium in COVID-19. Many state legislators propose to take it further by introducing several bills that would remove local government and court power from imposing their own eviction prohibitions.

“The bottom line is [eviction moratoriums]This puts landlords in an unjust situation. It is common to talk about how government and bureaucratic agencies pick winners or losers. And I certainly felt like that that was done unlawfully,” said Rep. Chris Brown (R–Kansas City) according to the St. Louis Post-DispatchThe first report on Friday by, was made by.

In the early days of the pandemic, the two biggest cities in Missouri, Kansas City and St. Louis were both covered by county circuit courts. Those were quickly replaced by the federal eviction ban issued September 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The August CDC eviction order was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. In response, the St. Louis County Council passed its own eviction moratorium that lasted for weeks. In response to an increase in cases due to the omicron variant, it reinstituted this eviction ban in December.

House Bill 1682 would prohibit courts from suspending eviction proceedings at their discretion without authorization. Another house bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Murphy (R–St. Louis County), would also prohibit localities from banning expulsions without state approval.

Some Democratic lawmakers and progressive activists have had a negative response to the bills.

Sarah Owsley (Policy and Advocacy Director for Empower Missouri), testified in writing to Brown’s bill. She said that eviction moratoriums were responsible for saving many lives and keeping out of work renters from losing homes during the Pandemic.

It’s unclear how effective eviction bans are at preventing COVID-19 deaths and cases, as with other pandemic mitigation strategies. Widely circulated research showing an enormous lifesaving effect from eviction bans has been criticized by many as being flawed and lazy.

Many predictions about a nation experiencing an unprecedented “eviction wave” without moratoriums were also made, but they haven’t come true. The CDC’s eviction notice was overturned and evictions have increased. However, they are below pre-pandemic norms in almost all states of the U.S. (including Missouri).

Even those places which were slow to distribute federally-funded rental assistance didn’t experience an increase in evictions.

Owsley’s written testimony argues that eviction moratoriums can be needed for weather and medical emergencies.

Before COVID-19 this was how eviction prohibitions were operated. It is clear from their history that expulsion bans were often very sticky policies and are difficult to repeal once they have been imposed. Five extensions of the federal eviction ban were made before its final repeal by Supreme Court.

Missouri’s law governing evictions is part of an ongoing trend. You can find more information at ReasonEric Boehm reports that legislators across the nation are proposing to and passing legislation that restricts the emergency powers held by governors, public health officials and other government officials. These legislators claim that too often, during pandemics, executive used emergency powers to limit property rights of business owners.

It also includes landlords that were forced to give eviction moratoriums effectively free housing for unscrupulous and abusive tenants even though the COVID-19 emergency had passed.

Missouri’s proposal to ban eviction bans from Missouri will be more difficult to implement by requiring that the legislature sign off on any moratorium.