Landlords and real estate companies are taking the Biden administration to court in a bid to stop a new eviction moratorium, which was extended via the CDC after the Supreme Court ruled the move to be up to Congress.
The Alabama and Georgia Association of Realtors filed a federal lawsuit in Washington DC late Wednesday pushing for evictions to resume after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the temporary ban had been reinstated.
The group of landlords and realtors argue in the lawsuit that the new moratorium, which is scheduled to last through October 3, exceeds the CDC’s powers and that it puts housing providers at risk.
About half of housing providers are “mom-and-pop operators,” the National Association of Realtors said in a statement.
“Without rental income, they cannot pay their own bills or maintain their properties,” the group said.
The state associations unsuccessfully brought a similar lawsuit last year that also challenged the CDC’s authority to impose a blanket ban on evictions.
If this new legal challenge is successful, an estimated 3.6 million Americans are facing eviction from their homes.
The latest lawsuit adds to the already ongoing legal saga that erupted earlier this year when US District Judge Dabney Friedrich found the CDC had exceeded its power with the initial moratorium.
In June, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the moratorium to remain in place through the end of July.
In a brief concurring opinion, Kavanaugh wrote that while he believed the CDC overstepped its boundaries by extending the moratorium, “[b]ecause the CDC plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks … and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds, I vote at this time to deny the application.”
Kavanaugh added that extending the moratorium beyond July 31 would require “clear and specific” legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Biden.
The Biden administration allowed the earlier moratorium to expire that past weekend after initially saying the Supreme Court’s ruling prevented an extension by the executive branch.
They changed course, however, after facing pressure and criticism from progressives that it was allowing vulnerable renters to lose their homes during a pandemic.
Some legal experts have already cast doubt on whether the new moratorium will stand up in court.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted on Wednesday that Biden, who has a law degree, wouldn’t have supported the moratorium if he was uncomfortable with the legal standing or approach.
“This is a narrow, targeted moratorium that is different from the national moratorium. It’s not an extension of that,” Psaki said.
The new order protects renters only in parts of the country where there is significant COVID-19 transmission, though in practice it covers areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives.