CDC Sued by Landlords, Housing Industry Over Eviction Ban



A group of Ohio landlords and the National Association of Home Builders, a national trade group for the housing industry, is challenging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction ban in court, The Hill reports.

The landlords and industry group filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on Friday.

They claim that the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Justice violated federal law and the Constitution when they imposed a national ban on evictions last month.

”The CDC’s moratorium is a sweeping expansion of federal power over the rights of property owners nationwide,” said Steve Simpson, a senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing the landlords and NAHB. ”Fortunately, Congress never gave the CDC that authority, and the Constitution’s separation of powers does not allow an agency to make up the law as it goes along. The courts shouldn’t allow the CDC’s power grab to continue.”

In September the CDC implemented a ban on evictions through the end of the year in an effort to prevent people from being evicted amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to The Hill, the CDC put forward the ban under a 1944 law that grants federal health authorities broad power to take whatever action they deem necessary to stop the interstate transmission of an infectious disease.

The law gives the federal government the ability to take measures ”such as inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, destruction of animals or articles found to be so infected,” to control infectious diseases, ”and other measures, as … may be necessary.”

The lawsuit claims the CDC violated that law because the regulation does not specifically mention housing provisions or the ability to void commercial contracts like leases.

”The CDC’s eviction moratorium represents a sweeping assumption of power by an administrative agency that it simply does not possess,” the suit states.

This isn’t the first legal challenge the CDC’s eviction ban is facing. According to The Hill, Richard Lee Brown and several housing trade groups also filed a suit in September against the CDC in District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Advocates of the eviction ban issued a warning that a repeal would force thousands into homelessness and risk increasing the spread of COVID-19.

”Protecting public health during this pandemic requires protecting those most likely to contract, spread, and die from COVID-19. These deleterious health impacts and the spread of COVID-19 are tied to the act of eviction itself and are likely quite preventable if eviction is halted under the CDC’s moratorium,” they wrote in a brief.

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