Georgia woman among those challenging eviction ban in suit

September 26, 2020 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia woman is one of several property owners suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the CDC’s Sept. 1 moratorium on evictions.

The case, filed earlier this month in federal court in Atlanta, alleges that the CDC order improperly denies landlords access to normal court processes. The federal agency, backed by President Donald Trump’s administration, says evictions would likely increase the spread of the COVID-19 respiratory illness.

The lawsuit says Sonya Jones owns a rental property in Jesup in southeast Georgia. Among other plaintiffs are landlords from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as the National Apartment Association, a landlord group.


Jones tells WABE-FM that she owns a chicken farm in southeast Georgia that produces eggs, and has been buying rental homes over the last 22 years to provide a retirement income.

“When you work by yourself, you don’t really have retirement,” Jones said. “So that’s what I’m trying to do–just build that up so that you know, when I retire, I will have something.”

One of her tenants fell behind on rent—she and her tenant disagree about the exact amount. When Jones tried to evict the tenant, a judge denied the move based on the CDC order.

“What right do they have to tell me I can’t have my own property?” Jones said.

The lawsuit claims the CDC is overreaching the powers it has been given by Congress has no right to interfere with state laws and halt evictions.

“Whatever the need for a government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the order advances one specific policy solution in violation of the constitutional interests of property holders across the nation,” a Sept. 18 filing states. “CDC’s Order is a ham-fisted effort to address the pandemic in a strained and illogical way.”