June 3 (UPI) -- A federal appellate court has ruled that a national COVID-19-related eviction ban ordered by government regulators can remain in effect, for now -- which comes as a victory for renters following a series of prior legal defeats.
The Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., in its ruling denied a request by a group of landlords to allow evictions to resume.
The ban was ordered last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a measure to avert mass evictions of renters devastated economically by the coronavirus crisis.
The decision comes after a defeat for renters last month when a federal judge ruled that the CDC exceeded its authority by ordering the ban. In that decision, District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled against the CDC -- but agreed to delay its enforcement to give the federal government time to appeal. The landlord group then appealed to give the ruling immediate legal force.
On Wednesday, the three-judge court panel in D.C. denied the landlords' appeal.
"[The government] has demonstrated 'that lifting the national moratorium will 'exacerbate the significant public health risks ... because, even with increased vaccinations, COVID-19 continues to spread and infect persons, and new variants are emerging,'" the court wrote in its seven-page decision.
Several judges have previously ruled that the eviction ban is illegal, but they have limited their rulings to apply to only the parties involved in the lawsuit. Friedrich said last month that hers should apply nationwide, but Justice Department attorneys asked that she keep the scope of her judgment narrow.
Under the CDC ban, landlords are prohibited from evicting renters who demonstrate via a sworn declaration that they'd face overcrowded conditions if they were thrown out of their home. They also must certify that they have made partial rent payments.
A study in seven states by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project found that landlords filed more than 56,000 eviction actions since the CDC ban took effect last September.