A group of Ohio landlords, joined by the National Association of Home Builders, filed a lawsuit Friday to overturn the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ban on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, alleges that the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice violated federal law and landlords’ constitutional rights by implementing a national ban on evictions.
The 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.
PLF, a conservative property-rights watchdog representing the landlords, says the moratorium has resulted in financial losses for thousands of property owners.
“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,” Simpson said in a statement.
“The courts shouldn’t allow the CDC’s power grab to continue,” he added. “The government can’t single out one group of people—landlords in this case—and force them to bear the economic burdens of the pandemic.”
The CDC issued an unprecedented ban on evictions in September, which is set to last through the end of 2020.
As justification, the CDC cited a 1944 law that gives federal health authorities broad power to take whatever action they deem necessary to stop the interstate transmission of an infectious disease.
But the landlords’ suit alleges that this law does not specifically mention housing provisions or the ability to void commercial contracts such as leases.
“The CDC’s eviction moratorium represents a sweeping assumption of power by an administrative agency that it simply does not possess,” the suit alleges.
Another lawsuit was filed against the CDC’s moratorium in September, and was filed by Richard Lee Brown and several housing trade groups in the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.