Eviction Halt Remains in U.S. as Judge Cites Health Concerns

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The judge who threw out a national moratorium on evictions agreed to keep the protection in place to avoid further spread of Covid-19 while the Biden administration appeals the ruling, even though she said the government isn’t likely to win.

In an order issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in Washington said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services raised legitimate concerns that as many as 433,000 additional cases of Covid-19 and thousands of deaths could be attributed to the lifting of the moratorium.

“To be sure, these figures are estimates, but they nonetheless demonstrate that lifting the national moratorium will ‘exacerbate the significant public health risks,”’ Friedrich said in a 10-page ruling.

In a May 5 ruling, the Trump-appointed judge found the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its authority by barring evictions across all rental properties. After Friedrich’s decision to knock down the ban, U.S. Justice Department lawyers said they’d appeal and push the judge to keep the protection in place for the time being.

The Alabama Association of Realtors, which sued to challenge the moratorium, claims landlords will lose $13.8 billion to $19 billion each month in unpaid rent as as a result of the CDC moratorium.

“The court remains mindful that landlords across the country have incurred substantial economic hardships as a result of the CDC’s nationwide moratorium on evictions,” Friedrich wrote. “The longer the moratorium remains in effect, the more these hardships will be exacerbated. Even so, given the public health consequences cited by the CDC, a stay is warranted.”

The case is Alabama Association of Realtors v. HHS, 20-cv-03377-DLF, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington).

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