Judge Murphy halts Cobb evictions due to federal order

Doorway to magistrate court, the court which conducts eviction hearings

Cobb County Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy announced yesterday that the magistrate court will halt eviction hearings for non-payment in Cobb County due to the recent presidential executive order.

The federal halt came in the form of two executive orders, issued on August 8 and September 1.

August 8 Executive Order

President Donald Trump had issued an executive order on August 8 signaling his intent to order a temporary eviction halt. The order, in part, stated:

Sec. 2.  Policy.  It is the policy of the United States to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, residential evictions and foreclosures during the ongoing COVID-19 national emergency.

Sec. 3.  Response to Public Health Risks of Evictions and Foreclosures.  (a)  The Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of CDC shall consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions of any tenants for failure to pay rent are reasonably necessary to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 from one State or possession into any other State or possession.

(b)  The Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shall identify any and all available Federal funds to provide temporary financial assistance to renters and homeowners who, as a result of the financial hardships caused by COVID-19, are struggling to meet their monthly rental or mortgage obligations.

(c)  The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shall take action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to promote the ability of renters and homeowners to avoid eviction or foreclosure resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19.  Such action may include encouraging and providing assistance to public housing authorities, affordable housing owners, landlords, and recipients of Federal grant funds in minimizing evictions and foreclosures.

(d)  In consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of FHFA shall review all existing authorities and resources that may be used to prevent evictions and foreclosures for renters and homeowners resulting from hardships caused by COVID-19.

The news release stated: “In the meantime, they will still work with groups that provide assistance through Cobb County’s CARES allocation to help head off future hearings.”

September 1 Executive Order

The August order was followed by a second order September 1, which states in part:

TEMPORARILY HALTING EVICTIONS: President Donald J. Trump is taking action to put a temporary halt to evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Following an Executive Order by President Trump, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is using its authority to temporarily halt evictions through the end of 2020 in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Under the CDC Order, American renters who meet certain conditions cannot be evicted if they have affirmatively exhausted their best efforts to pay rent, seek Government rental assistance, and are likely to become homeless due to eviction.
    • Those who benefit from this assistance are still obligated to pay accrued rent or housing payments in accordance with their lease or contract.
    • Landlords are still permitted to pursue eviction against tenants committing criminal acts, threatening the health or safety of other residents, and damaging property, among other offenses.
  • The intent of this Order is to use Federal authority to prevent evictions that could exacerbate the spread of COVID-19.
  • It is essential during the pandemic that Americans have an effective place to quarantine, isolate, and social distance, and evicting people from residences undermines that objective.