Eviction moratorium lifted: What to do when you face the process
The pandemic has wreaked havoc not only on the health and lives of many, but also on everyone’s day-to-day lives. From mask wearing, to closed restaurants, to many people losing their jobs everything is an absolute jumble.
In an effort to create one less worry for people who suddenly found themselves unable to pay rent, a moratorium was put into place which prevented landlords from evicting their tenants for not paying rent. After all, not all jobs can be worked from home, and many found themselves unemployed.
However, this moratorium is set to end in the near future – specifically on July 25th – this means landlords will soon be free to begin the process of trying to evict any tenants who are no longer able to pay for their apartments or homes. (Though this date may vary by state and city.) Some places who have lifted their moratorium early have already seen huge spikes in eviction cases – a county in Memphis has a backlog of 9,000 cases.
It’s believed over 20 million renters (or approximately 18% of all renters) could be facing eviction by the end of September.
Affordable housing problem
Affordable housing has already been an increasingly big problem in the US with about 25 million people paying a minimum of half their paycheck to rent every single month. Now, with people making less or none of the income they once were, they have no way of coping.
This means a lot of people are facing the worst case scenario of becoming homeless because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, eviction hearings, one of the first steps in the eviction process, are being held on the video chat website Zoom, which further puts tenants who don’t have access to technology at a disadvantage.
What you can do
Without seeking legal assistance odds are you won’t be given your full rights during the eviction process. It’s important to seek assistance from someone who can explain the process and provide advice. Even before the pandemic it is astoundingly uncommon for tenants to have representation. Pre-pandemic numbers in Colorado saw 2% of tenants facing eviction with an attorney – but 98% of landlords had attorneys.
It’s expected that the number of tenants without lawyers will further increase due to the pandemic. Calling 211 has been a resource for many – calling 211 will connect you to a call center which can put you in touch with the social services you may need. Nationally, the use of 211 has seen a 200% increase.
Tasha Ball, a supervisor for a 211 call center said, “A lot of people call us because they don’t know where to go. So, we assist them in going to the other agencies . . . We have a database of over 50,000 agencies to help with rental assistance.”
What you need to know
It’s also important to know what your rights are to make sure your landlord doesn’t attempt to evict you unfairly or without following all the steps of the eviction process.
Landlords cannot evict tenants without an eviction order, the moratorium lifting means these orders can be enforced again. The pandemic may also create some chaos with the process so make sure to read any mail or email you may get from the court or your landlord to ensure you’re up-to-date on any date changes or details.
If, for whatever reason, you are unable to attend a hearing, whether remote or in-person, let the court know. Do not just skip, this will not help your case, letting the court know you cannot attend and why shows responsibility.
It’s also likely the process of eviction will be very slow. The process takes time (sometimes months) under normal circumstances, and with the pandemic & an expected huge increase in eviction cases, the process will likely be even slower as the system gets overwhelmed.