Landlords, Real Estate Groups Ask Judge to Block CDC’s New Eviction Moratorium

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
August 5, 2021Updated: August 7, 2021

A group of real estate entities issued a legal challenge in a Washington district court on Aug. 4 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new eviction moratorium.

Landlords, real-estate companies, and property-management groups, including the Alabama Association of Realtors and its counterpart in Georgia, argued in their emergency motion that the latest eviction order issued by the CDC exceeds the agency’s powers.

The groups have requested that Judge Dabney Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia halt the new protections, citing the Supreme Court’s recent order that the CDC couldn’t extend the moratorium without new legislation.

The National Association of Realtors said in a statement that roughly half of all housing providers “are mom-and-pop operators” and that without rental income, “they cannot pay their own bills or maintain their properties.”

The nationwide moratorium on evictions was first implemented by the CDC in September 2020 amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, as some tenants struggled to pay rent. 

The agency announced a 60-day moratorium on Aug. 3, a day after the White House said the agency lacked the authority to do so. The new eviction moratorium will expire on Oct. 3. 

It’s intended to target “specific areas of the country” where COVID-19 cases are surging and “likely would be exacerbated by mass evictions,” the agency said, noting that this would apply to about 80 percent of U.S. counties, affecting about 90 percent of the U.S. population. 

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky cited the emergence of the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant, which now accounts for at least 80 percent of new cases in the country, as the reason for the emergency action.

The new eviction moratorium comes as roughly 6.5 million households are behind on rental payments, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There are nearly 110 million Americans living in rental households, and 19 million to 23 million of them are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30, according to a study by the Aspen Financial Security Program. 

In June, the moratorium was extended for 30 days, with officials saying it would be the final extension. That extension expired on July 31.

The Supreme Court ruled in late June that Congress must approve any extension to the moratorium. Last month, a federal court later ruled that the CDC had exceeded its authority in halting evictions.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the new eviction moratorium on Aug. 4, telling reporters that President Joe Biden “would not have supported moving forward with any action where he didn’t feel there was legal standing and legal support.” 

The Biden administration didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

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