Memphis-area landlords sue Trump administration over eviction ban

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A group of landlords is suing the Trump administration over its order protecting tenants from eviction.

The landlords own more than 5,000 rental units in the area, and they say the government’s eviction ban violates the Constitution.

Washington has been protecting families from eviction since March and a new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has evictions on hold until the end of the year.

The landlords say they’ve had to bear the financial burden of those decisions, and they’re urging a judge to overturn the ban.

The case names Attorney General William Barr, HUD Secretary Ben Carson and other members of President Donald Trump’s staff as defendants.

Locally, some tenants are saying times are really hard now. Ambria Ray lives at Hunter Oak Apartments in Whitehaven, and she is facing eviction due to be laid off from her job due to COVID-19.

“A lot of people lost their jobs,” Ray said. “What are we supposed to do? We’re depending on unemployment and that can’t pay $550.”

In order to prevent homelessness and stop the spread of COVID-19, the CDC has stepped in to stop evictions till the end of the year. While that may come as good news to tenants, some landlords in the Memphis area say it is unconstitutional.

Joshua Kahane with Glankler Brown Attorneys is representing eight agencies and landlords who collectively own more than 5,000 units in Memphis, including Hunter Oak Apartments.

The lawsuit reads the eviction ban violates their Fifth Amendment right which states “no person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

The landlords go on to say the CDC, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services had “no authority to issue an eviction-moratorium for owners and managers in the western district of Tennessee.”

As a result, they say the economic loss and damage they’ve received is “irreparable,” and they say they have a right to claim their units.

Kahane said the following in a statement:

“The CDC’s well-intended eviction moratorium appears to be a serious and unlawful infringement on the constitutionally protected rights of property owners, both large and small.”

The lawsuits also states there is no evidence to support the claims evictions will result in homelessness or increase the spread of COVID-19

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