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, though the Department of Justice has appealed the decision.
The eviction ban was put in place last year by the Trump administration using public health powers granted to the Centers for Disease Control & 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.”
Read the court opinion (PDF: 260 KB)