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Arizona Supreme Court rejects challenge to Ducey’s eviction moratorium

The Arizona Supreme Court won't hear a special action brought by trade groups representing landlords and trailer park owners who want to overturn Gov. Doug Ducey's executive order barring most evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Arizona Multihousing Association and the Manufactured Housing Communities of Arizona filed the suit, alleging that Ducey's order unconstitutionally overrules contracts that landlords have with tenants.

Ducey first issued a moratorium in March, then extended it in June until Oct. 31. When he extended it, Ducey also created funds to provide financial assistance to landlords and property owners who hadn't been able to collect rent from tenants.

The moratorium still allows for evictions to take place, but tenants cannot be removed from their residences if they qualify under certain COVID-19 exemptions. However, the process has proven to be tricky.

Landlord groups called the lawsuit a "last step" after talks between them and the Gov.'s office to secure additional financial assistance for landlords fell flat.

"We're shocked and disappointed that the Arizona Supreme Court has declined to hear this case, which has far-reaching consequences not just for rental housing owners, but for the Arizona economy," said Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus, the President and CEO of the AMA, one of the groups suing in a press release.

Ducey in March created a $5 million rent-assistance fund to help people avoid eviction, but it has been slow to distribute money. And much of the money remains unused: The Arizona Republic reported that only about $1.1 million has been sent to renters needing assistance. The lack of financial assistance released was a key argument against the executive order.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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