Tanya Hobson-Williams Says Federal Court’s Decision to Vacate CDC’s Eviction Moratorium Will Mean More Lawsuits

JAMAICA ESTATES, NEW YORK — Tanya Hobson-Williams, attorney at law at Hobson-Williams, P.C., says a federal court’s decision to vacate a moratorium on tenant evictions should be a wake-up call for renters to seek legal protections as landlords and property owners rush to take legal action against them.

On May 5, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich vacated the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium that was implemented under the agency’s Public Health Service Act. The judge ruled that the CDC does not have the authority to prevent landlords and property owners from removing tenants from their residences due to nonpayment of rent.

“Because of the judge’s decision, courts will be flooded with lawsuits filed by landlords and property owners looking to recoup their losses during the pandemic and collect from tenants who might not have the money to pay back rent,” Ms. Hobson-Williams says. “Whether it’s fair or unfair, landlords now hold the power.”

The decision came down the same day New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that extends the state’s moratorium on residential evictions until August 31. (It was initially set to expire on May 1.) The extended hold on evictions applies to those who have already submitted a hardship declaration form. As a result, tenants who no longer have to face displacement can apply for financial assistance from the state’s $2.4 billion rent relief program, which is scheduled to begin next month.

“This New York State law will give tenants another chance to stay home and not have to be forced to live somewhere else,” Ms. Hobson-Williams says.

The Department of Justice has announced that it plans to appeal the federal court’s order. Ms. Hobson-Williams says that, even if the decision is reversed, it may come too late. “This decision comes before renters were seeking to obtain federal rent relief,” she says. “If the appeal gets tied up in court for a long time, the tenants might be removed before ever seeing a penny from the federal government. If you are in danger of being evicted, please contact a landlord-tenant attorney immediately.”