You hear about NAR’s advocacy work, from city halls to statehouses to the halls of Congress. Yet legal advocacy is a quiet force supporting it all.
Property rights, illustration of home with homeowners hanging from it

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It was just after midnight Eastern time on a Friday in late August of 2021 when a rare breaking news email hit the inboxes of NAR’s full membership:

Supreme Court Sides with Property Owners, Eviction Moratorium Unlawful.

It was big news, wake-up-the-members kind of news—the culmination of an NAR-backed legal challenge to a federal eviction moratorium imposed by the Centers for Disease Control during the pandemic. The case ended up before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court twice.

The justices wrote, “The moratorium has put the applicants, along with millions of landlords across the country, at risk of irreparable harm by depriving them of rent payments with no guarantee of eventual recovery. Despite the CDC’s determination that landlords should bear a significant financial cost of the pandemic, many landlords have modest means.”

Indeed, this case wasn’t about large corporate landlords. It was about small housing providers who had one or two units and relied on that rental income to pay their bills and keep up their properties.

NAR argued for robust rental assistance to help tenants truly in need. However, a blanket eviction ban left some housing providers powerless over their own properties. The ruling resulted in a legal precedent that has been the basis of nearly all recent challenges on federal administrative overreach.

You hear a lot about NAR’s advocacy work, from city halls to statehouses to the halls of Congress. Yet legal advocacy is a quiet force supporting it all.

NAR’s advocacy team works with the Legal Action Program to identify cases around the country that are critical to the real estate sector and private property rights, providing support when needed.

Although court cases can be a slog, NAR doesn’t hesitate to go the distance as the nation’s preeminent organization defending private property rights. The successes are stacking up.

In April, NAR got another two Supreme Court wins in cases involving the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says private property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation.

Property rights don’t get any simpler than that concept, and NAR filed amicus briefs supporting two property owners. In both cases, the ruling was unanimous.

The first case found that local governments cannot demand hefty development fees from property owners in exchange for building permits. It stems from a 2016 lawsuit filed by a California landowner forced to pay $23,000 for a “traffic impact fee study” to obtain a permit to install a manufactured home on his property.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote that the takings clause “prohibits legislatures and agencies alike from imposing unconstitutional conditions on land-use permits.”

The second case was brought by a Texas man whose land repeatedly flooded after the state changed a nearby highway. In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the man may pursue compensation from the state. It was a technical ruling, although nonetheless important, that removed procedural barriers preventing the property owner from pursuing his “just compensation.”

In May 2023, NAR triumphed in a significant case on “home equity theft.” An elderly Minnesota woman sued when the county confiscated her condo for unpaid taxes, sold it for more than the debt, and kept the profit. This practice was shockingly still prevalent in multiple states. NAR joined with the American Property Owners Alliance and the Minnesota REALTORS® in filing an amicus brief in the woman’s defense, and the Supreme Court unanimously sided with the homeowner.

Also, in 2023, NAR successfully filed suit to stop the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. regulation, which makes it harder for property owners to utilize their land.

The EPA issued a new rule that still poses problems for homeowners, so the litigation continues. But NAR has expanded the fight by bringing in the REALTORS® Land Institute and the South Carolina REALTORS®.

As these cases demonstrate, NAR, along with its partners and state and local associations, are the first and last line of defense for property rights—backed by 1.5 million members who live in every ZIP code in America. It’s a standing army ready to raise the alarm anywhere property rights are threatened.

Advocacy Support

Your state or local association can call on the expertise of the NAR Land Use Initiative to analyze proposed legislative and regulatory land-use measures.


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