It's Up to You: NAA Lawsuit Q&A
NAA’s Legal Counsel John McDermott tackles frequently asked questions about our newest legal endeavor.
Q: Let’s assume I’m an eligible property owner. Why is it crucial for me to join the lawsuit? In other words if others join the lawsuit why do I need to?
A: First and foremost, let me be clear. Property owners must participate in the lawsuit to have access to any dollars awarded through this endeavor. Our estimates show that $26.6 billion in rent debt exists without any federal assistance allocated to cover it. This lawsuit is the only feasible way to reclaim that lost rent, and property owners who do not join the lawsuit will not have access to dollars that may be awarded.
Ultimately, though, the goal of this lawsuit goes beyond just money. The federal government broke an efficient system and left housing providers with tens of billions of dollars in debt through their nationwide eviction moratorium. A good way to look at it is “you broke it, you buy it” – meaning the government must pay for their unfunded and overreaching mandate. And, equally important, this lawsuit will ensure that the federal government cannot take measures like this again. Though the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the CDC eviction order, they left open the possibility for another moratorium to come through Congressional action; this lawsuit could prevent that from happening. It’s crucial for any eligible housing provider to participate so that together, as one voice, we can secure property rights and protect the future of our industry.
Q: How much time and legwork is involved in joining the lawsuit?
A: NAA and our legal representation have worked to streamline the plaintiff sign on process. It is our goal to ensure interested parties provide sufficient information to confirm their eligibility and ultimately save everybody time. Initially, property owners will need to complete a brief client information sheet and portfolio description. These documents are a snapshot of your rental properties and ask simple questions about your portfolio that will help ensure your eligibility. Questions include: states in which you have properties, unit counts and amount of uncollected rent, among others. Interested parties will also need to sign a contingency fee agreement and upload a W-9.
The process is thorough yet streamlined, as this lawsuit could secure property rights for years to come and result in payment of rent lost under the CDC’s eviction order.
Q: My portfolio didn’t experience large monetary losses, why should I join?
A: Ultimately this is about protecting your business and ensuring that you, alongside the broader rental housing industry, are not at the mercy of the government’s next “emergency order.” A victory in this case has the potential to prevent a federal takeover of private property from happening again.
Further, NAA wants to stop the federal government from damaging rental housing again by making it pay for the damage it caused over the last year. If they realize that they will have to pay for bad policies, they might think twice before damaging rental housing again. The industry’s future depends on property owners’ participation— even if your company experienced limited losses. We have a favorable Supreme Court that has already ruled recently to protect property rights, which provides us with a paramount opportunity.
Q: Is there a deadline to sign up?
The trial court is expected to reach a decision in the first quarter of 2022. Only those companies that have joined the case prior to that ruling will have their claims included as the case moves through the appeals process. The lawyers will amend the complaints filed with the court to add plaintiffs as they join but will be unable to do so when the case is on appeal.