Landlord groups ask U.S. judge to lift eviction moratorium

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WASHINGTON, Aug 4 - Landlord groups charged a U.S. judge in Washington on Wednesday to immediately lift a new eviction moratorium that was put in place Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying the new order was unlawful.

The Alabama Association of Realtors and others said in an emergency filing the CDC issued the new order for nakedly political reasons - to ease the political pressure, shift the blame to the courts for ending the moratorium, and use litigation delays to achieve a policy objective.

The groups won a ruling by U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in May declaring that the CDC's eviction ban was unlawful, but an appeals court blocked an attempt by the Alabama group and others to enforce the decision.

The divided Supreme Court in June agreed to let the CDC moratorium expire after the CDC said it would let the ban remain in effect on 31 July.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a concurring opinion saying that in his view extending the CDC moratorium past July 31 would require clear and specific congressional authorization.

Under pressure from president Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress, the CDC reversed his course on Tuesday and issued a somewhat narrower eviction ban replacing the national moratorium that expired midnight on Saturday after Congress failed to approve an extension.

The White House had repeatedly argued before Tuesday's order it did not believe it had legal authority to extend the eviction protections.

The White House did not comment immediately. A CDC spokeswoman declined to comment.

The new 60 day ban protects millions of renters from eviction and covers counties with substantial or high COVID - 19 transmission rates. The ban currently applies to about 82% of U.S. counties and more than 90% of the population.

Lawyers for the landlord groups in asking Judge Friedrich to overturn the new CDC moratorium noted Biden on Tuesday said the courts made it clear that the existing moratorium was not constitutional, it wouldn't stand.

Biden said the administration was moving forward in part because by the time it is fought, it will probably give some additional time to get more than $40 billion in rental relief distributed by Congress to renters and landlords.

More than 15 million people in 6.5 million U.S. households currently are behind on payment of rent, according to a study by the Aspen Institute and COVID - 19 Eviction Defense Project which collectively owe more than $20 billion to landlords.