Northern Ohio landlords sue CDC over coronavirus eviction moratorium, claiming agency overreached

SaveSavedRemoved 0
Deal Score0
Deal Score0


CLEVELAND, Ohio – Landlords across northern Ohio sued the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, claiming the agency’s move to place a nationwide moratorium on rental evictions has forced property owners “to bear a disproportionate share of the costs of the pandemic.”

The National Association of Homebuilders and a group of property owners filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Akron, claiming the CDC’s order on Sept. 4 exceeds its authority and was arbitrary.

The lawsuit, which is one of several filed in federal courts across the country by landowners who have struggled financially because of the coronavirus, asked a federal judge to set aside the order and forbid the federal government from enforcing it. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge John Adams.

“The CDC’s eviction moratorium represents a sweeping assumption of power by an administrative agency that it simply does not possess,” the lawsuit said. “The moratorium alters the contractual relationships of perhaps millions of people across the country. It suspends legal proceedings in every state.”

The CDC, under President Trump, said it enacted the moratorium because it feared that, without the measure, there would have been mass evictions from residents who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. The possible increase in homelessness prompted fears of an increase in the coronavirus.

The order requires tenants to provide an affidavit saying they are unable to provide rent because of a layoff or medical expenses. They also must show they have made efforts to obtain government assistance for rent. Lastly, they must show that they could become homeless or be forced to move in with others because they have no place else to go.

Luke Wade, an attorney with the libertarian-leaning Pacific Legal Foundation that is representing the landlords, noted that many of his clients are small-business owners who need rent payments to pay their own bills. He noted that the Justice Department can prosecute landlords who disobey the CDC order, leaving many of them fearful.

The CDC did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

Friday’s lawsuit cited Cedarwood Village in Akron, where a tenant is $3,500 behind in rent. The complex would evict the tenant if it weren’t for the CDC order.

Another plaintiff, Skyworks Ltd., has a tenant in Canton who has not paid rent that was due Oct. 1, according to the lawsuit. She was informed to pay or vacate the property, under terms of her lease. Instead, the lawsuit said, she sent paperwork to her the landlord about the moratorium.

The lawsuit noted that Akron and Canton’s municipal courts have issued statements that said the judges will not issue eviction orders if a tenant has presented their landlord with the CDC affidavit.

In another case, Toledo Properties has a tenant who is $1,443 behind in rent, according to the lawsuit. The landlord won an eviction proceeding, but that decision was put on hold because of the moratorium.

Wade said it appeared the CDC latched onto a phrase in the Public Health and Service Act of 1944. It states the government, when trying to stop the spread of a disease, may take several spelled-out actions, but may also take unnamed “other measures.”

To Wade and the attorneys representing the landlords, the government is too broadly interpreting “other measures.”

“Congress didn’t write a blank check for them to do anything under the sun,” Wade said.

The lawsuit stressed that the CDC has known about the effects of the coronavirus since January, but it issued the moratorium last month.

“The order shifts economic hardships to property owners – exacerbating their cash flow problems – without substantial evidence that a temporary moratorium will substantially advance CDC’s cited public health goals,” the lawsuit said.

Maurice Thompson, an attorney for the libertarian Ohio-based 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, is also on the case. He said he felt the CDC’s actions are similar to ones taken by the Ohio Health Department throughout the pandemic. Thompson’s organization has filed lawsuits against the state to challenge several of Ohio’s actions and has received mixed results.

The issue of struggling renters gained notice Friday. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state will release $50 million for rent and mortgage assistance, something for which housing advocates have pushed.

“(The moratorium) was unprecedented,” said Bill Faith, the executive director of the Coalition for Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the state’s leading advocate for affordable housing.

“We advocated rental assistance. That would make the property owners whole, and it would help the tenants. The moratorium gives renters some breathing room. But when it is over, the renters are going to have to pay that money. I worry about what those tenants will do when this is over.”



Source link

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply