Three months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a national order that banned certain residential evictions until the end of this year. The move was intended to keep renters in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Americans have accepted various government orders intended to limit the spread of the virus or mitigate its fallout. But organizations representing the housing industry pose a legitimate question: On what legal grounds — even during a pandemic — can federal health officials order property owners to allow tenants to live rent free?

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