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Monroe landlord sues to overturn CDC eviction order



MONROE, La. – A Monroe landlord has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn a moratorium on some rental evictions ordered by the CDC.

The CDC’s September 1 order came as a way to limit the spread of COVID-19, but property owners are disputing the agency’s power to make that decision.

“What power do they have? And if you actually look at it, the statute is very limited in the power that they have,” Luke Wake said.

The Pacific Legal Foundation filed the challenge for Chambless Enterprises LLC, of Monroe, and the Apartment Association of Louisiana, with 376 members that own or manage 118,000 apartments.

Attorney Luke Wake says this has caused chaos for landlords over the past few months.

“The fact is that these landlords do rely on rental income to cover their mortgage for example. That’s true of the landlords we’re representing in this lawsuit. It’s also true for a lot of other landlords across the country and throughout Louisiana,” Wake said.

Wake is asking for a preliminary injunction to block the CDC from enforcing this order. He says the lives of people could depend on this outcome.

“I spoke with a woman in New Orleans not too long who said she couldn’t afford to cover her mortgage that she was going without prescription medication because she was so dependent on that rental income that wasn’t coming in and that she had no recourse,” Wake said.

According to information gathered by John Pollock at the National Coalition for the Civil Right to Council, landlords in Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee have filed similar lawsuits against the CDC moratorium, and those in 13 other states and the District of Columbia are trying to overturn state or city eviction moratoriums.

Wake hopes a decision will come soon.

“This rule is set to expire on the 31 of December and in all likelihood the federal government’s going to extend this into January and into 2021 and then the debt is going to continue to balloon for the tenants who are probably never going to be able to repay and the landlord again has no recourse to bring someone in there that’s actually willing to pay as they’re contracted to do,” Wake said.