COVID-19

Georgia landlord among those challenging CDC eviction moratorium

Stephannie Stokes Oct 16, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Property owners around the country are suing the CDC over its eviction moratorium. Above, a Maricopa County constable knocks on an apartment door in Phoenix before evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent on Oct. 6. John Moore/Getty Images
COVID-19

Georgia landlord among those challenging CDC eviction moratorium

Stephannie Stokes Oct 16, 2020
Property owners around the country are suing the CDC over its eviction moratorium. Above, a Maricopa County constable knocks on an apartment door in Phoenix before evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent on Oct. 6. John Moore/Getty Images
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Sonya Jones produces chicken eggs on her farm in Southeast Georgia. As she’s earned money over the past 20 years, she’s invested in more than a dozen rental properties.

“When you work by yourself, you don’t really have retirement,” she said. “So that’s what I’m trying to do — just build that up so that I will have something.”

But recently, a tenant in one of those properties kept falling behind on their monthly $450 rent. And when Jones tried to evict the tenant in court, she learned that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has halted residential evictions for now.

“What right do they have to tell me I can’t have my own property?” Jones said.

Jones is one of the property owners around the country suing the CDC over its eviction moratorium. The federal agency ordered a stop to evictions in cases where tenants are behind on rent to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. But some landlords say the moratorium is government overreach.

The CDC order places landlords in an impossible position, said Robert Pinnegar, president of the National Apartment Association, another plaintiff in the case.

“The industry is trying to work as much as possible with residents to be able to help them bridge this gap. But with every passing month, it is a challenge,” Pinnegar said.

He said some landlords may not be able to survive. They have mortgages, and he said the government has to help. The amount of missed rent this year could total $34 billion nationwide, according to a report by the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

Eric Dunn with the National Housing Law Project said he agrees that landlords need financial help. Still, he said challenging the eviction moratorium is the wrong move.

“There’s no constitutional right to evict tenants,” Dunn said.

The government can prohibit evictions, Dunn said, as long as there’s a rational basis. And when there’s a pandemic?

“Well, then, absolutely, there’s a rational basis to curb these sort of things,” he said.

The moratorium is effective through Dec. 31. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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