Landlords Push Back Against CDC Eviction Moratorium
Lawsuits are working their way through federal court to cancel, or at least put an injunction against, the national eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early September.
One suit involves a group of seven landlords in Memphis who own about 5,000 apartment units altogether. They assert that the CDC order is unconstitutional on several grounds, including the violation of due process and interfering in what should be a state matter.
“All plaintiffs have tenants in units who are delinquent in the payment of rent and who would be otherwise lawfully evicted from the units ... but for the halt order,” the complaint says. "The Halt Order is unconstitutional and amounts to a denial of due process in violation of the Fifth Amendment and violates the Tenth Amendment and its anti-commandeering doctrine.”
"[The] CDC has not identified any act of Congress that delegated authority to impose an eviction moratorium across the United States,” the complaint said.
The National Apartment Association, which represents landlords' interests, has joined the Georgia suit. The organization objects to the moratorium for similar reasons as the various other landlord plaintiffs. It also asserts that the moratorium will damage the housing market.
"Enacting a nationwide eviction moratorium without direct rental assistance will exacerbate the nation’s housing affordability crisis," National Apartment Association CEO Bob Pinnegar told Bisnow in an email.
"If owners and operators cannot pay their bills, including apartment staff payroll, taxes, mortgage and insurance, rental units lose financial viability and may permanently leave our already strapped housing stock, whether by foreclosure, government liens or even sale of the property," Pinnegar said.
The CDC directive applies to individual renters earning less than $99K/year or couples earning less than $198K/year, and it specifies that tenants who seek protection must affirm that they have sought other government help, are suffering a COVID-19-related hardship, and are likely to become homeless if evicted.
The agency took action as the previous partial federal moratorium, enacted in the CARES Act relief bill, had expired. A number of state eviction moratoriums expired toward the end of August as well.
Landlords have filed at least 23 suits against state and local moratoriums, ABC News reports. None have been successful so far.