Court Battles

Appeals court deals another blow to landlords on eviction freeze

An Atlanta-based federal appeals court on Wednesday dealt another blow to landlords seeking to end a nationwide eviction freeze put in place amid the pandemic.

The ruling by a divided three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals leaves intact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium, which is set to run through July.

The move comes after the Supreme Court last month voted 5-4 to reject an emergency request from a separate group of landlords who also sought to have the eviction ban lifted, arguing it amounts to unlawful government overreach at a cost of some $13 billion each month to property owners.

The CDC order was enacted in September and subsequently extended by Congress and President Biden. Most recently, the Biden administration announced a one-month extension, through July, which is expected to be the final extension of the protections.

The federal moratorium allows tenants who have lost income during the pandemic to protect themselves from eviction by declaring under penalty of perjury that they have made their best effort to pay rent and would face overcrowded conditions if evicted.

The extended protections come as landlords and property owners have sought to evict tens of thousands of cash-strapped renters from their homes and as federal rental aid continues to make its way to needy tenants. Some state governments, which bear responsibility for distributing more than $45 billion in federally funded rental assistance, have been slow to make those disbursements.

The eviction pause has faced numerous legal challenges, leading to a patchwork of legal interpretations nationwide on the moratorium’s lawfulness.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., held in May that the moratorium was an invalid exercise of the CDC’s authority. But the judge, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee, delayed enforcement of her ruling, citing the risk to public health if evictions were allowed to proceed.

Four of the Supreme Court’s more conservative justices indicated last month that they would have allowed Friedrich’s ruling to take immediate effect while the Biden administration appeals.

The 11th Circuit case arose when a group of landlords seeking to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent and a rental trade association sued in September. A district court judge rejected their request for a preliminary injunction, prompting their appeal to the 11th Circuit.

In Wednesday’s 2-1 opinion, the majority found that the challengers had failed to show that the landlords were likely to suffer an irreparable injury if the eviction freeze were kept in place.

Tags Eviction moratorium Joe Biden landlords
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