Apartment owners, landlords, rights groups sue CDC over unconstitutional eviction moratorium
09/26/2020 // Arsenio Toledo // Views

In response to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), Congress passed a temporary moratorium on evictions. On Sept. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the help of the Department for Health and Human Services (HHS), published an order that created a second, more expansive eviction moratorium. The National Apartment Association (NAA) -- a trade group of apartment owners --  and individual landlords are suing in federal court because they believe the eviction moratorium is unconstitutional.

On March 27, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included a limited and temporary moratorium on evictions for tenants living in certain types of federally supported housing. This moratorium expired on July 24.

However, the Trump administration, with the help of the CDC, issued a new moratorium entitled “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent Further Spread of COVID-19.” This new moratorium, which went into effect on Sept. 4 and lasts until the end of the year, covers almost all renters across the United States. (Related: California just declared war on property owners by banning evictions, allowing people who don't pay rent to occupy homes they don't own.)

The moratorium allows tenants to stay in their rented property if they notify their landlord that they recently had to deal with large medical bills, a loss of income or are ineligible to receive financial assistance from the government. They further have to argue that, if they were to be evicted, they would be forced into homelessness or a different kind of unsafe living situation.


The moratorium covers renters who earn less than $99,000 a year. The CDC states that property owners who try to defy the eviction moratorium could be sent to jail for up to a year and be made to pay a fine of up to $250,000.

Local, state and federal government agencies are doing everything they can to try and expand their power during the pandemic. This includes both hold orders on evictions as well as the creation of mandates for vaccinations. Listen to this episode of the Health Ranger Report, a podcast by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, and learn about why America is turning into a medical police state.

Landlords arguing CDC overstepping its authority

The NAA joined a group of landlords in filing a lawsuit, known as Richard Lee Brown v. Secretary Alex Azar, et. al.seeking to get the moratorium rolled back. The case was filed at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

The lawsuit names HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Acting CDC Chief of Staff Nina B. Witkofsky as the defendants, and they are asking that the court vacate “their September 1, 2020 Order, which suspended lawful residential evictions as applied to Plaintiffs.”

The NAA and the landlords are being represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting civil and constitutional rights from being violated by the overreach of “the Administrative State.”

According to the lawsuit, the CDC's moratorium is a violation of their constitutional rights because the federal agency did not specify which law they based their authority to halt evictions on.

“Agencies have no inherent power to make law, and nothing in the relevant statutes or regulations gives the CDC the power or authority to issue an eviction-moratorium order,” said the NCLA.

The NAA and the landlords are arguing that the CDC is using the order to “commandeer” state officials into working for them by enforcing an eviction moratorium that is not backed by federal law.

They are also arguing that, because they, as property owners, continue to cover the costs of maintenance, utilities and other expenses, they have a right to expect that their tenants pay their fair share and if they are unable to do so should not be expected to continue living in someone else's property.

“When will the federal government learn that Congress makes the laws, not federal agencies?” said NCLA executive director and general counsel Mark Chenoweth. “NCLA looks forward to vindicating the civil rights of our clients to access the courts, enforce their rental contracts and preserve their rights to reclaim their own property.”

The CDC is arguing that their powers come from the Public Health Service Act and other related federal regulations that give it the authority to enact “reasonably necessary” policies that can halt the spread of diseases such as COVID-19.

Industry officials and experts agree that moratorium is short-sighted and harmful

Since filing their lawsuit, the NCLA has received an overwhelming amount of positive responses from people all across the country who say that the eviction moratorium is harming them.

“This speaks to the serious damage caused by the CDC's lawless effort to rewrite the law,” said Caleb Kruckenberg, the NCLA's litigation counsel, in a statement. “We are thrilled to represent the members of the NAA and the brave property owners who are standing up to this abuse of power.

Another group of property owners in Tennessee filed their own lawsuit in federal court against the CDC. They are also arguing that the moratorium is unconstitutional and that by issuing it, the federal agency is preventing landlords from accessing due process with respect to their private property.

Many other officials and experts in the rental housing industry have warned the CDC that their moratorium will have very devastating effects on landlords, especially on small landlords who only own one or a handful of properties.

David Howard, the executive director of the National Rental Home Council, argues that the moratorium might actually cause more economic harm than it believes it is preventing, as it puts tenants in the position of having to pay back several months' worth of rent once the moratorium ends, which might put them into debt and cause them to sink deeper into poverty.

Learn more about how local and national governments are attempting to deal with the pandemic by reading the articles at Pandemic.news.

Sources include:



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