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U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the District of Columbia struck down a nationwide eviction moratorium Wednesday, calling it unlawful. Friedrich’s ruling applies nationwide.

The eviction ban was put in place last year by the Trump administration using public health powers granted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during health emergencies.

The ban was most recently extended by President Biden through the end of June.

In her 20-page ruling, Friedrich said, “It is the role of the political branches, and not the courts, to assess the merits of policy measures designed to combat the spread of disease, even during a global pandemic. The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not.”

The Georgia and Alabama Association of REALTORS®, two housing providers, and their property management companies, filed the suit in defense of mom-and-pop property owners around the country struggling to pay bills without rental income for more than a year.

NAR—which helped secure nearly $50 billion in rental assistance provided by Congress since December to help tenants pay their bills and provide relief to housing providers who have lost income—supported the lawsuit, saying the ban was no longer needed.

“NAR has always maintained that the best solution for all parties was rental assistance to cover the rent, taxes and utility bills for tenants struggling during the pandemic,” says NAR President Charlie Oppler. “This decision prevents two crises—one for tenants, and one for mom-and-pop housing providers who do not have a reprieve from their bills. With rental assistance secured, the economy growing, and unemployment rates falling, there is no need to continue a blanket, nationwide eviction ban. With this safety net firmly in place, the market needs a return to normalcy and stability.”

Oppler adds that “our attention now should turn to the swift and efficient implementation of rental assistance.”

Background-on-the-CDC-Eviction-Moratorium-Decision-5.5.21

CDC eviction moratorium still in place in Arizona after federal judge strikes it down

Jessica Boehm & Catherine Reagor – Arizona Republic

The national moratorium on evictions enacted last year to help struggling renters during the pandemic is illegal, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. But Arizona renters are still protected — at least for now. 

U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the District of Columbia ruled Wednesday the federal government overreached in enacting the ban and ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium be thrown out. 

The Department of Justice announced it would fight the judge’s decision.

“The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a notice of appeal to the DC Circuit of this morning’s ruling vacating the CDC’s eviction moratorium. Also we seek a stay of the decision, pending appeal,” Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said via tweet.

While the court process plays out, renters will remain protected in Maricopa County, county justice courts spokesman Scott Davis said.

Davis called the court’s decision “significant and not wholly unexpected given that other, lower courts have found similarly,” but said “no change will take place immediately, if at all.”

“It would be imprudent to suddenly reverse course without considering a myriad of implications to renters and landlords who have cases pending,” Davis said. 

He said the justice courts will continue operating in compliance with the CDC moratorium unless the Arizona Supreme Court or other, higher authority instructs them otherwise. 

The CDC moratorium protects renters from eviction for nonpayment of rent if they sign a declaration stating they lost income during the pandemic and adhere to certain requirements, including applying for rental assistance. 

The moratorium is set to expire June 30. 

The Arizona Multihousing Association, which represents landlords across the state, has disputed the legality of the CDC moratorium and other moratoriums since they were enacted last year. Get the Street Scout – Catherine Reagor on real estate newsletter in your inbox.

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“That moratorium coupled with the state’s actions mean many property owners have gone more than a year providing free housing to residents while still paying their own mortgages, bills and maintenance costs,” President and CEO Courtney LeVinus said. 

LeVinus said she hopes Wednesday’s ruling pushes all government agencies in Arizona to speed up distribution of the approximately $1 billion the state has set aside for rental assistance. 

“No one needs to be evicted for not paying rent — if government finally acts to effectively and efficiently distribute this relief funding,” she said. 

USA Today contributed to this story.

Coverage of housing insecurity on azcentral.com and in The Arizona Republic is supported by a grant from the Arizona Community Foundation. 

Reach the reporter at jessica.boehm@gannett.com or 480-694-1823. Follow her on Twitter @jboehm_NEWS.