Legal services attorneys stress tenant’s rights as CDC Eviction Moratorium nears expiration

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – More than a year ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented an Eviction Moratorium, meaning tenants could not be kicked out of their homes if they lost their jobs and failed to make rent.

It has been extended once. With a new June 30th expiration date quickly approaching, legal services attorneys said they’re consulting clients on their rights in case it doesn’t get extended again.

Renters across the country are being protected, but they must prove they have been severely impacted financially by the pandemic as to not be evicted. They must also show they are making partial payments; however, the moratorium is not an absolute ban on evictions.

“The CDC moratorium does allow landlords to go ahead and file evictions and then tenant has to put forth the CDC defense and go to court in some cases and prove their defense,” Legal Services Alabama Attorney Laurie McFalls said.

McFalls is based in Huntsville. She said they’re seeing a spike in eviction cases, and a lack of affordable housing options for clients to fall back on.

“With the pandemic, evictions take up, I would say more than 50% of the cases that come into our office, so that is a large percentage of a very vulnerable population that is now facing homelessness,” she said.

McFalls said even as we move forward with the pandemic under control, that has not made life any easier for tenant clients.

“People got behind, and they’re now trying to catch up and it’s hard when you get that deep in a hole to dig yourself out of it,” McFalls said.

She said Huntsville and Madison County are just two of many areas across the country offering rental assistance programs to help tenants get caught up, but she said it can get complicated.

“They require your landlord to work with you. Both the landlord and the tenant can benefit from these programs and a lot of times, there’s just bad blood at this point,” she said.

As the deadline approaches, McFalls stresses her clients try to meet with their landlord and create an open dialogue before June 30th.

“Whether the plan is to negotiate a move-out date with your landlord, or to go to your landlord and say there are these rental assistance programs out there and I’d really like to take advantage of them, you need to have a plan in place now,” she said.

She said Legal Services Alabama is happy to help, you can find more information on them here.

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