The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Los Angeles’ COVID-19 eviction moratorium, rejecting an effort by Southern California’s largest landlord organization to reverse the restriction.
The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles sued the city on June 11, 2020, challenging the eviction ban, prohibitions on late fees and interest on unpaid rent, and moratorium on annual rent increases. AAGA consists of 55,000 rental property owners and managers.
Judge Daniel Aaron Bress wrote for the three-judge panel that upheld the moratorium, writing “the moratorium’s provisions were likely ‘reasonable’ and ‘appropriate’ given the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic” and adding that there was “no apparent basis” on which the moratorium violates the U.S. Constitution’s Contracts Clause, as the landlord association alleged. The clause states that “No State shall pass any … law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.”
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled similarly in June, dismissing a Contracts Clause argument from landlords. The court rejected an argument that the moratorium violates the Takings Clause because suspending evictions forces landlords to provide their property for use as housing without just compensation.
The argument was rejected based on a Supreme Court ruling that “a state does not commit a physical taking when it restricts the circumstances in which tenants may be evicted.”
AAGLA’s Executive Director Daniel Yukelson told City News Service the association is prepared to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I understand that some of the justices of the Supreme Court are interested in hearing a Contracts Clause case and this one would be the right case for them to hear,” Yukelson said.