Updated January 15, 2021:
DAY OF ACTION WIN! AG Racine Will Appeal Ruling & Defend DC Moratorium on Eviction Filings
The Office of the Attorney General announced this afternoon that they will appeal the DC Superior Court judge's decision that found the eviction filing moratorium unconstitutional, and plan to request a stay on new eviction filings while the case goes to the DC Court of Appeals.
A BIG THANK YOU to all the ONE DC members and supporters who organized, called, emailed, tweeted, and otherwise reached out to show your support during the day of action!!
January 15, 2021
OAG Will Appeal Decision by D.C. Superior Court Judge Finding Moratorium is Unconstitutional
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today issued the following statement regarding the effort by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to appeal a D.C. Superior Court judge’s decision striking down the moratorium on eviction filings enacted by the Council during the COVID-19 public health emergency:
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to crush local businesses, tens of thousands of District residents are struggling to pay the bills after losing hours at work, if not their jobs entirely. These residents deserve a chance to get back on their feet as soon as possible—without the added anxiety from an eviction filing looming over them.
“That’s why the Office of the Attorney General will appeal the December finding by a D.C. Superior Court judge that the Council’s moratorium on eviction filings is unconstitutional.
“Since the start of this public health emergency, OAG has enforced and defended the Council’s protections for our most vulnerable residents. For many District households, these measures—eviction protections chief among them—have made the difference between enduring this crisis and falling to ruin.
“Residents and advocates have told us that the moratorium on eviction filings has provided an essential source of relief in the form of hope that once the pandemic ends, they will be able to get back to work and back on track with rent payments while keeping a roof above their heads.
“While the Superior Court’s decision does not affect the moratorium on eviction proceedings or other tenant protections, we know that many residents may leave their homes in response to an eviction filing, whether out of fear, pressure, language barriers, or a lack of awareness regarding their rights. That’s exactly what we need to prevent during this public health emergency.
“After conducting a thorough legal analysis and carefully considering the community’s input, we plan to request a stay in D.C. Superior Court while we take this case to the D.C. Court of Appeals.”
On December 16, D.C. Superior Court Judge Anthony Epstein decided that the moratorium against eviction filings was unconstitutional, because it prevents landlords from accessing the courts. This means that more tenants will receive court summons in the near future and will need to present defenses to show why they shouldn't be evicted. In some of those cases, the tenants will lose, and be ordered evicted. Many tenants may also move out of fear. Judge Epstein’s decision is a serious blow to tenants in DC!
The Office of the Attorney General has the power to protect tenants. As part of the #HousingIsTheCure: National Day of Action, we are organizing a call-in day to Attorney General Karl Racine’s Office to ask that he appeal this harmful decision by Judge Epstein that struck down the moratorium on eviction filings and request a stay on any new eviction filings.
AG Racine has until Friday, January 15th to file an appeal. We need YOU to contact the Office of the Attorney General. Below are call and email scripts, and sample tweets. We encourage you to use the talking points and make it your own!
Call Script - Call (202) 724-1301
Hello, my name is ____ and I am a DC resident. I am calling to ask that the Office of the Attorney General appeal the decision by Judge Epstein that struck down the moratorium on eviction filings and request a stay on any new eviction filings. Allowing eviction proceedings to move forward will prolong DC’s public health emergency. People get scared when they receive court notices. This causes many people to move out on their own to avoid further harassment from the landlord or the traumatizing experience of dealing with court. People need to stay in their homes. Will the OAG appeal this decision and request a stay on any new eviction filings?
Email Script - Email email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Attorney General Racine,
My name is ____ and I am a DC resident. I am writing to ask that the Office of the Attorney General appeal the decision by Judge Epstein that struck down the moratorium on eviction filings and request a stay on any new eviction filings. Allowing eviction proceedings to move forward will prolong DC’s public health emergency. People get scared when they receive court notices. This causes many people to move out on their own to avoid further harassment from the landlord or the traumatizing experience of dealing with court. People need to stay in their homes during the pandemic without fear of eviction and that is why we need this decision appeal and a stay on any new eviction filings.
.@AGKarlRAcine @KarlRacineDC I ask that you appeal Judge Epstein's decision that will allow landlords to file for evictions. Tenants should not be at risk of losing their homes during a pandemic! #HousingIsTheCure #LaViviendaeslaCura #StopEvictions #CancelRent
- We ask AG Racine to appeal the decision by Judge Epstein that struck down the moratorium on eviction filings and request a stay.
- Without both an appeal and a stay, our neighbors will be irreparably harmed. Even though no legal evictions will actually be carried out until the end of the pandemic, people get scared when they receive court notices. This causes many people to move out on their own to avoid further harassment from the landlord or the traumatizing experience of dealing with court.
- There are already a record number of wrongful evictions happening in DC. Landlords will be emboldened by this decision, and we believe it will lead to more illegal lock-outs and threats.
- If this loss goes unchallenged, landlords will see it as an opening to attack every other tenant protection the Council passed.
- Financial profit is not more important than human lives! Any "loss" that landlords have suffered by not being able to file an eviction case is uncomparably outweighed by the dangers of eroding the protections the Council passed to protect DC residents.
- Everyone needs a safe home to stay in, free from harassment, through the end of this pandemic, for their own safety and protection and so that our community can stop the spread of COVID-19
- This change will prolong DC’s public health emergency. The only way to get through this pandemic is for people to stay home.
- In order to prevent this harm from happening, the OAG must appeal Judge Epstein’s decision and request a stay on any new eviction filings!
Take it a step further! Contact your DC councilmember and encourage them to also contact the OAG’s office requesting an appeal and stay. Click here for DC Councilmember info: https://dccouncil.us/councilmembers/
Know Your Rights & Resources
- FREE LEGAL HOTLINE: 202-780-2575
- The moratorium on evictions in DC is still in place. No one can be physically put out of their home until after the end of the public health emergency.
- The only legal way for a landlord to evict a tenant in DC is to file an eviction case and then win that case. Then it's the U.S. Marshals who actually carry out the eviction by showing up and changing the locks.
- If you hear of landlords illegally changing locks or telling people they have to move out, tell the tenants they can contact a lawyer at 202-780-2575.
- If you or someone you know receives anything from Landlord Tenant court, call a lawyer at 202-780-2575.
- Although the eviction filing moratorium was found unconstitutional by Judge Epstien, the 30-day Notice moratorium is still in place. This law law was passed in October and says in almost* every eviction case, the landlord has to serve a 30-day notice before filing an eviction case. And the law that says no landlord can serve a 30-day Notice until after the pandemic!
- If you or someone you know needs a lawyer because you received court paperwork or your landlord is threatening them to move out, call the Landlord Tenant Legal Assistance Network (202) 780-2575
- If you need rental assistance, apply online: https://octo.quickbase.com/db/bfpwsjvh2