WASHINGTON — A group of landlords on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue an order that would effectively end the federal government’s national ban on residential evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
In an emergency petition, the landlord groups said a May 5 lower court decision nullifying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium should go into effect immediately.
Led by the Alabama Association of Realtors, the landlord groups argued that the CDC exceeded its authority when it halted evictions to help renters during the pandemic.
Despite ruling in favor of the landlords last month, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in Washington agreed to “stay,” or halt, her ruling from taking immediate effect to allow the Biden administration to appeal.
“The stay order cannot stand,” the landlord group argued in its petition.
“Every day the stay remains in place, applicants’ property continues to (be) unlawfully occupied and their rental income continues to be unlawfully cut off,” the landlords added. “Nine months of overreach is enough. This Court should vacate the stay.”
The CDC’s eviction ban, enacted in September while former President Donald Trump was in office, is set to expire on June 30.
In a blow to the landlords, an intermediate appeals court on Wednesday said it would not lift the stay order put in place by Friedrich.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said in that decision that the CDC eviction ban was likely lawful, but it has not yet issued a ruling on the merits of the case.
In the landlords’ appeal to the Supreme Court, the group said: “Landlords have been losing over $13 billion every month under the moratorium, and the total effect of the CDC’s overreach may reach up to $200 billion if it remains in effect for a year.”
Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said the landlords’ appeal to the nation’s highest court was “astonishing” because $50 billion in funding was available nationally to pay the rent arrears owed to them.
“If they spent even a quarter of that effort instead convincing landlords to apply for and accept the money,” said Yentel, “maybe they wouldn’t feel such a pressing need to evict low-income tenants who fell behind on rent during the global pandemic.”
Reporting by Jan Wolfe in Washington and Michelle Conlin in New York.