Aug 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Landlords mount legal challenge to Biden admin's new eviction moratorium

President Joe Biden takes questions during an event in the East Room of the White House August 3

President Biden at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A group of landlords and real-estate companies issued a legal challenge on Wednesday night in a D.C. district court to the Biden administration's new national eviction moratorium.

Driving the news: The Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors' emergency motion argues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's order Tuesday barring evictions for most of the U.S. through Oct. 3 exceeds the CDC's powers, according to a statement from the National Association of Realtors.

  • The groups cited a June Supreme Court decision that declined to override the previous extension through July 31.
  • The National Association of Realtors said in its statement that about half of all housing providers "are mom-and-pop operators" and without rental income, "they cannot pay their own bills or maintain their properties."
  • If successful, the challenge could put millions of people at risk of falling behind on their rents or becoming homeless during the pandemic as the Delta variant rages across many parts of the U.S.

The big picture: The Biden administration allowed the previous eviction moratorium to expire, saying it didn't have the legal authority to extend the ban and urging Congress to act.

  • But the administration changed course after pressure from Democrats — in particular progressives including Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who protested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Of note: The new order temporarily halts evictions in counties with higher COVID-19 cases and should cover areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives, AP notes.

  • The landlord and realtor groups argue in their filing that the CDC extended the moratorium in the "absence of executive legal authority," per the Washington Post.

Flashback: In the Supreme Court ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the court's three liberal justices in leaving the CDC's earlier moratorium in place.

  • Kavanaugh agreed that the CDC had exceeded its authority in enacting the moratorium, but said the extension would allow the government "additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds."

What they're saying: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that President Biden, who has a law degree, wouldn't have backed the action if he weren't comfortable with the legality of the matter, per AP.

  • "This is a narrow, targeted moratorium that is different from the national moratorium. It’s not an extension of that," she said.
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