Landlords Challenge Eviction Restrictions in Federal Courts

In Cases, Legislation, Real Estate by Richard Bianco

In New York and Texas landlords have filed federal lawsuits, claiming that laws denying them access to the courts to pursue evictions violate their constitutional property and contractual rights.

the new york case:

A landlord filed a federal case against the State of New York alleging that by prohibiting eviction filings, Governor Cuomo overstepped his authority under state law, and infringed on the landlord’s constitutional right to enter into and enforce contracts.

On July 2, 2020, the Judge granted summary judgment in favor of the State. She found that the Federal District Court did not have jurisdiction to decide whether Cuomo’s action exceeded his authority under state law.

With respect to the federal question, the Judge found that the Governor’s order does not violate the Constitution, because, it is only a temporary moratorium, and does not permanently impact the ability to collect rents. The Judge also pointed out that eviction restrictions by the States, have long passed constitutional muster.

The landlord has stated that he intends to pursue the state law claim, that Governor Cuomo acted outside of his authority in ordering the eviction restrictions. The eviction moratorium in DC is an emergency law passed by the Council and not a Mayor’s order. As such, the NY litigation is unlikely to impact the District.

the texas case:

Texas landlords have filed a federal case challenging the eviction protections in the CARES Act, which prohibits evictions in any residential property that participates in a federal housing program or is financed by a federally backed mortgage. The CARES Act does not require forbearance or other relief to the owner of the unit in question.

The landlords argue that they have been deprived of their constitutional rights to access the courts, to contract and enforce contracts, of due process and equal protection under the law. They further point out that the practical result of the eviction restrictions, is that tenants simply do not to pay their rent, which is financially crippling for small landlords especially. To date, no hearing has been set.

what you need to know now

At this point, there are no reports of pending cases in DC challenging the emergency eviction restrictions. We are closely monitoring the courts and the rapidly changing law and will continue to publish updates as there are new developments. However, if you have questions about your individual situation, please contact us or use our online scheduling tool to make an appointment.