Group representing 85K landlords joins suit to stop CDC eviction ban

National Apartment Association CEO: Moratoriums force industry into “offering a service without compensation”

National Apartment Association CEO Bob Pinnegar and Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar (NAA; Getty)
National Apartment Association CEO Bob Pinnegar and Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar (NAA; Getty)

A group representing 85,000 property owners who control 10 million apartments joined a lawsuit that seeks to stop the federal eviction ban.

The National Apartment Association joined the suit, which is trying to invalidate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction ban. The action was filed Sept. 9 in the federal court in Georgia.

It names the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the acting chief of staff of the CDC as defendants. The plaintiffs filed a separate motion for a temporary restraining order of the ban.

“Eviction moratoria saddle the apartment industry solely with the responsibility of offering a service without compensation, all while operating at a potential deficit,” Bob Pinnegar, CEO of the National Apartment Association, said in a press release.

The plaintiffs argue the federal eviction ban — announced Sept. 1 — places an unfair burden on landlords, who leased their properties with the understanding they could evict tenants who didn’t pay rent and recover control of their properties.

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The lawsuit contends the eviction order deprived Richard Lee Brown, a Virginia landlord, of the sole avenue to evict his nonpaying tenant, who owes $8,092 in rent for her $925-a-month apartment.

The suit also alleges the CDC does not have the authority to make laws or issue an eviction order — and that doing so amounts to a constitutional violation.

“CDC’s actions are not authorized by statute or regulation,” the complaint reads. “But even if they were, they are unprecedented in our history and are an affront to core constitutional limits on federal power.”

The lawsuit is the latest seeking to dismantle an eviction moratorium meant to protect tenants hit hard by the pandemic. In numerous states, landlord groups have made similar arguments to combat the eviction bans, but have met with little success.

In the wake of the CDC’s eviction moratorium — which President Donald Trump called for — evictions in 16 cities immediately plummeted, a Princeton University study found. The ban does not prevent evictions for reasons other than nonpayment, such as nonrenewal of lease, or for violating other terms of the lease. The ban, which lasts through the end of the year, also does not preclude states from passing stricter eviction rules of their own.