The California Apartment Association, in partnership with the San Francisco Apartment Association, has filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to accept a case challenging the eviction moratoria imposed in Seattle and the State of Washington.

The case, El Papel LLC and Berman 2 LLC v. The City of Seattle et al., has substantial implications for landlords nationwide, as it addresses the constitutional validity of these moratoria and their impact on property rights.

The brief filed by CAA and SFAA underscores the broad impact of eviction moratoria, particularly focusing on the challenges they present to rental property owners. These restrictions, also enacted in response to the pandemic in California jurisdictions such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland, placed stringent limitations on evictions, profoundly affecting many landlords and property managers. In addition to highlighting the damage to many rental housing providers done by such pandemic-era policies, the brief warns the high court that these policies aren’t merely a pandemic relic that it can ignore – as illustrated by the eviction moratorium adopted in San Diego just weeks ago following a winter storm event.      

The El Papel case is of particular importance for CAA given its striking similarity to CAA’s own legal challenge. Since mid-2022, CAA has been fervently litigating on behalf of its members against the most extreme of the pandemic moratoria in California, which was adopted by Alameda County. This specific moratorium, in effect from March 2020 to April 2023, virtually prohibited all evictions in the county and even has provisions which remain in effect to this day. The legal underpinning in CAA’s Alameda County case is nearly identical to that in the current petition before the Supreme Court. If the court were to accept the El Papel case for review and, ultimately, rule in favor of the landlords in that case – that ruling would be likely to have direct bearing on the outcome of CAA’s own challenge in addition to setting pivotal legal precedent for property law and landlord-tenant relations across the United States.

In addition to CAA and SFAA, the El Papel case is backed by other groups interested in protecting property rights – including the Cato Institute, Rental Housing Association of Washington, and National Apartment Association. All of the briefs filed in the case are available here.

The court is scheduled to consider the El Papel petition at its conference on Friday, Feb 16. At that time, it could decide whether to grant a writ of certiorari, which would mean agreeing to hear the case and review the decisions of the lower courts, or deny it – spelling the end to the appeal process for the case. Alternatively, the court could do neither and instead defer the decision for a later date, or require the City of Seattle to file its own brief arguing why the court should not hear the case. The result of the Feb 16 conference will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 20.