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Court Invalidates CDC Eviction Moratorium
U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia recently struck down a nationwide eviction moratorium. The ruling has application nationwide.
As many of you know, the moratorium was an extraordinary measure put in place last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), claiming authority under the Public Health Service Act during health emergencies. The moratorium was most recently extended through the end of June.
The Court’s ruling boiled down to a very specific question: “Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium?” U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich held that the CDC did not possess the necessary authority to impose such a moratorium. Therefore, the moratorium ends immediately.
Realtors® and landlords have been following this issue since the ban was introduced, urging federal lawmakers and the CDC to permanently suspend the moratorium and redirect focus to rental assistance for both landlords and tenants. NAR was successful in its lobbying efforts to secure nearly $50 billion in rental assistance provided by Congress to help tenants pay their bills and provide relief to housing providers who have lost income. This federal relief option provided a strong argument that the eviction ban was unnecessary.
While this ruling offers important clarity regarding landlord and tenant rights, it will be extremely important for the elected officials in both state and federal government to find common ground to direct the distribution of approved rental assistance in a timely and efficient manner.
It is also important to note that the Michigan Supreme Court has issued an order establishing specific procedures and timing for landlord/tenant cases during the pandemic. That order can be found here. Michigan Realtors® will continue to follow this important ruling, updating members regarding any additional statewide impacts.
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING UPDATED RECEIVED FROM MR ON 5/6/2021::
I wanted to give you brief update on the status of CDC Eviction Moratorium. After the news broke yesterday, the Government asked the Court for a stay pending appeal, which would have the effect of keeping the CDC order in place until a higher court has a chance to consider the matter. Judge Friedrich has put the matter on a (very) temporary hold in order to give the plaintiff Realtor® associations and landlords an opportunity to file a response to the stay request. Judge Friedrich’s filing deadlines are quite short, which suggests that we should have a ruling on the stay question within a few weeks. That said, it will be important for landlords and property managers to keep an eye on the progress of this matter. We will keep updating as more details become known.
Brian F. Westrin, Esq,
Source: Michigan REALTORS® (MR)
Covid-19 Regulations and Real Estate: Where Are We Now?
If you’ve been monitoring the news, there has been an increase in discussions surrounding reentry to offices and mask requirements. With vaccinations becoming more prevalent and available, and Covid-19 cases in moderate decline, there has been increased optimism that many of the gathering and workplace limitations will be relaxed. Along with that possibility, there will need to be forthcoming guidance from MDHHS and MIOSHA on how best to navigate future regulatory changes. The purpose of this communication is to summarize the current regulations on real estate activity as of today.
For brokerage and association activity, the following summary should be helpful:
- The limitation on residential gatherings continues to be set at 15 persons from no more than 3 households.
- Open houses can be held; however, no more than three households (the listing agent and two prospective buyer households) can view the home at one time. We continue to advocate to DHHS for additional flexibility for real estate gatherings. However, the current position from DHHS remains outlined in an FAQ on its website:
Q: What gathering rules apply to open house events and private real estate showings?
A: Any event that takes place in or at a residence must adhere to the residential gathering limits – even if the residence is vacant. Accordingly, open houses, real estate showings, and all other events at residential properties must not exceed 15 people from 3 households indoors at the same time.
- Seller clients may still authorize non-traditional open houses whereby the listing agent can advertise in advance the parameters for viewing the property. Such parameters would need to require some form of sign-in with the listing agent once the prospective buyer has arrived, and that prospective buyers wait in their vehicle until they are notified that it is their turn to tour the home. This way, the listing agent is able to ensure that only three households are in the residence at a given time. Of course, it must also be an arrangement that the Seller has authorized.
Masks: The most recent MDHHS order does include a very narrow exception to the mask requirement in residential settings if all attendees are vaccinated. We have heard from some members that this exception could also cover interactions between Realtors® and their clients/customers during home showings and open houses. While we don’t disagree with this interpretation, it seems to us that as a practical matter, this exception better suits a traditional residential setting where friends and/or family members from different households are gathering. Determining a person’s vaccine status is a particularly sensitive inquiry. Persons who invite others into their homes socially can determine whether and how to require proof of vaccine status. In the case of home showings, Realtors® would be in a difficult position – dealing on one hand with potential buyers who may resent the intrusion and on the other hand with sellers who are looking to the Realtor® to verify the vaccine status of each and every buyer who visits their home. Given that difficult position, the preferable course may be to simply keep requiring masks during residential showings until MDHHS guidance is more clearly articulated.
- The limitation on indoor non-residential gatherings remains at 25 persons, which means that in-person gatherings for Board and Committee work may resume, limited to 25 or fewer individuals.
- Retail settings are not subject to the 25-person limit but instead are limited to 50% of the building’s capacity as set by the Fire Marshall. The DHHS Order does not define “retail” but the term is used generally to describe the sale of both goods or services to the public and, thus would appear to include real estate offices.
- In-person gatherings for continuing education and other conferences may resume but are limited to 25 or fewer individuals. As the weather continues to improve, outdoor gatherings also become more of an option. The most recent MDHHS Order does modify mask requirements for outdoor gatherings. Masks are not required, but remain highly recommended, at an outdoor gathering with fewer than 100 persons.
Governor Whitmer announced this week that 55% of Michiganders have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Reaching this threshold of vaccination enables in-person work to resume across all employment sectors on May 24. While office work will be more clearly allowed, the MIOSHA rules are still in force. The current MIOSHA rules and summary of the workplace requirements can be found in the COVID-19 Office Preparedness Toolkit at https://mirealtors.com/Industry-Resources. We anticipate additional information from both MDHHS and MIOSHA related to workplace safety rules as we get closer to May 24th.
As restrictions are lifted, we will communicate those changes. We understand that some of these larger gathering restrictions remain frustrating and a little confusing. Michigan Realtors® will continue to advocate for additional gathering options for real estate activity. If you have questions related to the above, please contact Brian Westrin at email@example.com.
Michigan's Financial Institutions Continue to Support Michigan Homeowners Through MiMortgageRelief Partnership Extension
Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) announced, on May 5th, the extension of the MiMortgage Relief Partnership with more than 225 of Michigan’s financial institutions agreeing to continue to provide mortgage relief to borrowers experiencing experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Source: Michigan REALTORS® (MR)
Michigan Short-Term Rental
HB 4722 - Sponsor: Representative Sarah Lightner - amends the Michigan Zoning Act to clarify that short-term rentals are residential nature. The change in law will protect the use of short-term rentals from an out-right ban through local government zoning. Amending the Michigan Zoning Act finally establishes a meaningful definition of short-term rental as a permitted residential use. The language designates “short-term rental” as a single-family residence, a dwelling unit in a 1-to-4 family house, or any unit or group of units in a condominium complex, for terms of 30 consecutive days or less. The bill will be taken up for initial testimony in the House Committee on Commerce and Tourism very soon. There is a Senate version planned for introduction today by Senate President Pro Tempore, Senator Aric Nesbitt.
In addition, this week the Michigan House passed a bill clarifying the process for getting a new title for a mobile home. The bill received a bi-partisan vote of support in the House of Representatives, and now continues on in the Senate. HB 4304 reestablishes the surety bond process for taking possession of, or the retrieval of, a new or lost title to a mobile/manufactured home located outside of a mobile home community.
Lastly, the Veteran and Active-Duty Licensure bills have moved to the floor in both the House and Senate for final votes before heading to the Governor’s Desk for her signature.
Source: Michigan REALTORS® (MR)
Licensing Issues for Brokers, Salespersons, and Appraisers
As we’ve reported in the past, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (“the Department”) has been migrating many occupational licenses over to a new system. If you are experiencing any difficulty due to a change in license number or are unable to find your license on the Department’s site, please contact Brian Westrin at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will work with the Department to help resolve any issues you are experiencing.
Source: Michigan REALTORS® (MR)
Legal Lines - Question(s) of the Month
Question: I have received three offers on a home that I have listed for sale. One of the offers is from my seller’s neighbor. My seller would prefer to sell the home to his neighbor; however, the neighbor’s offer does not contain the best terms. My seller would like me to share the economic terms of the best offer with his neighbor’s agent and give him an opportunity to match those terms. Isn’t this confidential information?
Answer: No. The terms of an offer received by a seller are not confidential information and may be freely shared. Information known to both sides of a potential transaction is not confidential information.
Source: Michigan REALTORS® (MR)
Upholding Rules on Harassing Speech
Four case interpretations expanding on a REALTORS®’ duty to provide equal professional services were approved by the Professional Standards Committee in addition to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of REALTORS®.
The committee also approved changes to the association’s ombudsman and ethics mediation policies involving public trust and enhanced its policy statement on harassing speech and hate speech. Voting took place recently during a session of the virtual REALTORS® Legislative Meetings.
The case interpretations that were approved all pertain to Article 10 of the Code of Ethics, which governs a REALTOR®’s duty to offer equal services to all regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Case interpretations offer examples of the practical application of the Code.
The four approved case studies are as follows:
- Case #10-6: Use of hate speech and slurs on the basis of race
- Case #10-7: Use of harassing speech on the basis of political affiliation
- Case #10-8: Use of harassing speech against protestors
- Case #10-9: Use of speech or ideas included in religious doctrine
Source: National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)
National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)
Code of Ethics Training Requirement
Current Cycle: Jan 1, 2019 through Dec 31, 2021
NAR's Board of Directors recently approved a change to the Code of Ethics training requirement, extending it from every two years to every three ears. This extends the current cycle deadline from Dec. 31, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2021.
REALTORS® are required to complete ethics training of not less than 2 hours, 30 minutes of instructional time. The training must meet specific learning objectives and criteria established by the National Association of REALTORS®.
Failure to complete the required periodic ethics training shall be considered a violation of a membership duty which will result in suspension of membership for not less than thirty (30) days. On March 1, 2022, the membership of a member who is still suspended as of that date will be automatically terminated.
As a friendly REMINDER,
The deadline is December 31, 2021 to fulfill this requirement.
The course is available on NAR’s website (www.nar.realtor) for no charge. Go to their website and look for Code of Ethics training.
If you have questions on whether you have fulfilled the Code of Ethics requirement, please feel free to email DBirkner@SEBrealtors.com
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