Landlord groups ask federal judge to halt new CDC eviction ban

Two groups representing property owners asked a federal judge Wednesday evening to block enforcement of the latest eviction moratorium from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Alabama Association of Realtors and its Georgia counterpart argued in the emergency court filing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the latest moratorium issued by the CDC is “unlawful.” The order is essentially an extension of the previous moratorium, which “has prevented landlords from evicting tenants who aren’t paying their rent during the pandemic,” the filing said.

The groups, which challenged the first moratorium in court, also argued that the CDC “caved to the political pressure” after Democrats pressed the White House to extend the moratorium over the weekend. The groups said the agency issued the new order “for nakedly political reasons — to ease the political pressure, shift the blame to the courts for ending the moratorium, and use litigation delays to achieve a policy objective.”

The final eviction moratorium from the CDC was set to expire July 31. But after pressure on the Biden administration from housing advocates and Democrats, who had failed to pass legislation to extend the moratorium, the CDC issued a new eviction moratorium for regions of the country with “substantial and high transmission” of the coronavirus.

If counties improve their Covid rates and do not experience substantial and high transmission for 14 consecutive days, tenants will no longer be protected by the CDC moratorium. Similarly, if Covid cases worsen in a county, renters might become protected by the CDC order. County transmission rates can be found on the CDC website. The new order will expire Oct. 3.

At the onset of the pandemic, Congress imposed a temporary ban on evictions, but it expired in July 2020. At then-President Donald Trump’s direction, the CDC issued an order of its own extending the eviction ban through March, which President Joe Biden later extended.

A federal judge in Washington ruled in May that the CDC had no power to issue the moratorium on foreclosures. But the judge stayed the order to give the government time to appeal. A federal appeals court declined to lift the stay, leaving the moratorium in place.

The Alabama Association of Realtors was one of the leaders of the challenge to the moratorium, which went to the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 vote in late June, the high court allowed the eviction ban to remain in place only through the end of July. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who voted with the majority, wrote a concurring opinion arguing that action by Congress would be required to extend it further.

The groups asked the court to halt the new CDC eviction ban, saying it violated that ruling.

“This Court should immediately vacate the CDC’s fourth extension because it conflicts with the Supreme Court’s ruling,” the groups said in the court filing. “A majority of the Supreme Court made clear that the eviction moratorium exceeds the CDC’s statutory authority and could not be extended beyond July 31, thus vindicating this Court’s first merits ruling. The Supreme Court’s ruling was hardly ambiguous.”

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