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Landlords launch legal war against eviction moratorium

Evictions may resume in New York today, but with important caveats… Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks said that residential evictions — including those for non-payment of rent and for breaking lease terms — can go forward, but the proceedings are expected to take longer than usual, TRD noted.

  • Backdrop: In September, the Trump administration sought to address the eviction issue on a federal level through an executive order that tapped the nation’s public health laws to prevent people who are behind on their rent from being pushed out of their homes. The Justice Department and CDC would impose penalties on landlords that seek to evict any tenant that signs an affidavit affirming financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. In New York, the Tenant Safe Harbor Act also allows tenants to argue against an eviction for non-payment if the pandemic has caused them financial distress.
  • Why it matters: In Columbus, Ohio, a real estate holding company sued the CDC in September, arguing that the Trump administration had infringed on its constitutional rights by preventing it from filing for eviction. The firm, KBW Investment Properties, sought to remove a tenant who had fallen behind on rent by about $6,000 since the beginning of the year, according to its complaint, which also asked a judge to consider “invalidating” the Trump administration’s moratorium entirely, the Washington Post noted.
  • Be Smart: The lawsuit prompted the CDC and the Justice Department to clarify in a public pronouncement late Friday that landlords nationwide are free to start the eviction process while the federal moratorium is active. In doing so, the Trump administration also clarified that landlords “are not required to make their tenants aware” such an eviction ban exists.
  • Heard on the Street: Attorney Sherwin Belkin: “This is a slow step in the right direction… It’s not sustainable for property owners to continue paying taxes and building expenses without collecting rent or being able to evict tenants.” [TRD+WashingtonPost]

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