FILE - Apartment complex

(The Center Square) – A Monroe-based landlord and the Apartment Association of Louisiana are suing the federal government over its COVID-19 eviction moratorium.

In September, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that evictions of certain tenants would be detrimental to efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. Eligible tenants must stipulate under penalty of perjury that they expected to make less than $99,000 this year, that they cannot pay their rent due to loss of income or medical expenses, and that they could not obtain government assistance for rent or housing.

The eviction ban is set to expire at the end of December, though it could be extended. Tenants who utilize the order still can be assessed late fees and interest for delaying payments.

The Pacific Legal Foundation is representing Chambless Enterprises in Louisiana and have filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of an Ohio company. Chambless attempted to evict a tenant from a single-family home the company owns in West Monroe. The tenant submitted a renter’s declaration under the CDC rule, causing the local city court to refuse to compel eviction, the lawsuit states.  

The plaintiffs acknowledge that Congress has authorized the CDC to take steps to reduce the spread of communicable diseases but argue that authority does not extend to a nationwide eviction moratorium. Therefore, the CDC essentially is making law, the plaintiffs argue, adding that the federal agency did not follow rule-making procedures that should have allowed effective parties a chance to comment on the regulations.

Members of the Trump administration named in the lawsuit include CDC head Robert Redfield, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Attorney General William Barr.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.