ACLU accuses Missouri courts of violating federal eviction ban

Jackson County allowed new non-payment filings and ignored tenant eligibility declarations, lawsuit alleges

TRD NATIONAL /
Sep.September 30, 2020 01:15 PM
(iStock)

(iStock)

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Kansas City, Missouri, tenants, alleging that courts in that state violated the federal eviction ban.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday morning in the U.S. District Court of Missouri’s Western Division, alleges that courts in Jackson County have ignored the Centers for Disease Control’s directive that bans taking actions to remove eligible tenants from their homes. Kansas City landlords have continued to file evictions for non-payment regardless of whether tenants say they are covered by the federal ban, according to the suit.

The ACLU’s move follows numerous lawsuits filed by landlord groups against federal, state and local governments, which seek to stop limits on evictions during the pandemic. Last week, a national group representing 85,000 landlords joined a federal lawsuit challenging the CDC ban on evictions.

Instead of allowing tenants to declare they are covered by the federal eviction ban, plaintiffs say that the Jackson County 16th Judicial Circuit Court held proceedings where landlords demanded tenants’ tax records, bank statements, proof of government aid and other personal information.

A spokesperson for the 16 Judicial Circuit Court declined to comment.

On Sept. 3, one day before the CDC rule was entered into the federal register, the Jackson County Civil Court announced it would allow eviction filings if landlords submitted verification that their tenants had not said they were eligible for federal protection. That guidance “overrides” the protections afforded by the federal eviction ban, the plaintiffs alleged.

The lawsuit also raises concerns that many tenants, especially low-income workers who may have difficulty documenting their eligibility, could subject themselves to perjury charges.

Holding hearings and allowing new filings also conflicted with the court’s own written guidance on evictions, the lawsuit alleges. On Aug. 13, the Jackson County Civil Court released a public statement saying that if President Trump or Missouri’s governor issued such a moratorium, “the Court will enforce and give effect to such valid Order.”

It is unclear how many people in Jackson County have been physically evicted or have left their homes after receiving notices of eviction for non-payment since the federal ban was put in place.

Tara Raghuveer, who leads KC Tenants, said that she noticed a drop-off in eviction filings immediately after CDC’s ban was put into place — but they spiked again soon after, she said.

“The court is handing landlords a playbook to continue evicting their tenants,” Raghuveer said. “They’re facilitating a process that is inherently violent to tenants during a pandemic.”


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
40 East 72nd Street and Spiros and Antonia Milonas  (Getty; Google Maps)

Under water: Shipping magnate’s troubled UES condo is bankrupt

Under water: Shipping magnate’s troubled UES condo is bankrupt
(Getty, iStock)

Hundreds of storage units in New York heading to auction

Hundreds of storage units in New York heading to auction
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio (iStock)

Manhattan theaters sue Cuomo, de Blasio over Covid restrictions

Manhattan theaters sue Cuomo, de Blasio over Covid restrictions
100 East 53rd Street,  China Vanke chairman Yu Liang and RFR's Aby Rosen (Photos via Structure Tone and Getty)

Aby Rosen accuses Chinese partner of “power grab” after condo loan default

Aby Rosen accuses Chinese partner of “power grab” after condo loan default
Bozeman, Montana

Montana’s real estate market shows no signs of cooling heading into winter

Montana’s real estate market shows no signs of cooling heading into winter
An aerial view of a pop-up drive-in theater built in the parking lot at the Broadway Commons in Hicksville, New York (Getty)

Covid pummeled shopping centers, but their parking lots are thriving

Covid pummeled shopping centers, but their parking lots are thriving
The number of mortgage borrowers in Covid-19 forbearance plans ticked down again this week. (iStock)

3M homeowners remain in forbearance

3M homeowners remain in forbearance
Phil Collins wants to sell his Miami Beach mansion for $40M, but his ex-wife won’t leave

Phil Collins wants to sell his Miami Beach mansion for $40M, but his ex-wife won’t leave

Phil Collins wants to sell his Miami Beach mansion for $40M, but his ex-wife won’t leave
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...