A group of Ohio landlords and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) filed a lawsuit against the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Friday seeking to overturn their ban on evictions.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, challenges the eviction moratorium that was put in place September 4 and is set to last until at least the end of December. Proponents of the ban praise it for preventing tens of thousands of people from losing their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, The Hill reported. (RELATED: REPORT: Trump Admin Seeking To Prevent Evictions For American Making Under $99k)
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“The CDC’s eviction moratorium represents a sweeping assumption of power by an administrative agency that it simply does not possess,” the lawsuit reads. “The moratorium alters the contractual relationships of perhaps millions of people across the country. It suspends legal proceedings in every state. It forces one segment of the population—landlords—to bear a disproportionate share of the costs of the pandemic because they provide the rental housing that so many Americans need.”
The eviction moratorium was put into place under a 1944 law that gives health authorities broad power to put in place measures such as “inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, destruction of animals or articles found to be so infected or contaminated as to be sources of dangerous infection to human beings” to control the spread of infectious disease. Health authorities are also permitted to take “other measures” that “may be necessary.”
Because the law does not specifically mention housing, the CDC does not have the power to put in place an eviction ban, the complaint alleges.
Richard Lee Brown and several housing trade groups also challenged the ban in a September lawsuit in the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, The Hill reported. A brief filed in that case by a group of housing advocates and health experts said that overturning the ban could lead to thousands of people becoming homeless and risks spreading the coronavirus.
“Protecting public health during this pandemic requires protecting those most likely to contract, spread, and die from COVID-19,” the brief said. “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.”