Article by Stephanie Friese and Jennifer Garner on “CDC Moratorium Creates a Legal Labyrinth”
In an article that published in the Daily Report on March 25, 2021, Atlanta-based Shareholder Stephanie Friese and Associate Jennifer Garner discuss the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recent order halting the eviction of any covered person from residential property jurisdictions covered by that order.
“The order’s guidance stops there, leaving practitioners to navigate disparate treatment from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (sometimes within the same jurisdiction) and leaving landlords and tenants alike to plead with courts for varying degrees of relief,” explain Friese and Garner.
The authors further explain the ambiguities outlined in the order, including whether it applies to a particular jurisdiction and whether the tenant is eligible for protection. “This approach saddles courts with the responsibility of analyzing an ever-evolving body of existing local and state law and determining whether public health benefits are equal to or greater than those offered under the order,” the authors write. “Unsurprisingly, it also has the potential to create inconsistent court decisions between counties within the same state.
The criteria outlined in the order is subjective. While nothing in the CDC order precludes a landlord from challenging the veracity of a tenant’s declaration, it also offers no procedural path for landlords to mount such a challenge. The natural result is that a routine dispossessory proceeding starts to more closely resemble a trial for perjury.
“As landlords and tenants alike scramble for legal recourse, the combination of results is as varied and unpredictable as rolling a pair of dice,” said Friese and Garner.
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