Eviction Moratoriums Part 1: Status and Potential Fallout

As states begin to reopen after coronavirus shutdowns, many eviction moratoriums will be coming to an end. This will cause problems for many tenants who are still unable to pay rent. However, where governments are working to extend moratoriums to help tenants, landlords may be unable to pay their own bills. 

Both state and federal government orders have halted evictions and given tenants more time to pay rent, although many of these orders are set to expire soon or have already expired. At the national level, the CARES Act issued a moratorium on evictions that applies to tenants in all properties that have a federally backed mortgage or are part of a federal assistance program. Until the moratorium ends, landlords can only send notices of late rent that cannot include late fees or a notice to vacate. After the moratorium ends in late July, tenants will be given an additional 30 days before they are required to vacate.

For Georgia properties that do not fall under the CARES Act, there is no official eviction moratorium. The Georgia Supreme Court issued an order suspending all nonessential court matters⎯which includes eviction proceedings⎯that will end on July 12. However, landlords can still file for evictions. In other states in the Southeast, the expiration of eviction moratoriums varies. Florida, for example, has suspended evictions until July, while Alabama began allowing evictions on June 1 and South Carolina began allowing evictions on May 15.

Some cities and states have offered more extensive protection for tenants, with the debates surrounding these acts highlighting the tension between landlords and tenants. In Los Angeles, landlords are suing over an ordinance giving tenants a year after the end of the state of emergency to repay their rent. In New York and Massachusetts, landlords have brought lawsuits challenging eviction moratoriums that will remain in effect until August. The landlords argue that they will be unable to pay their own expenses and have no options for relief. In a worst-case scenario, landlords who are unable to pay could lose their rental properties, leaving fewer rental properties available for tenants who are unable to afford a mortgage.

As moratoriums end, some are predicting mass evictions. In Georgia, courts could soon be overwhelmed with a backlog of already filed eviction cases. Across the country, governments have taken varied approaches to prevent evictions during the pandemic, and their next steps in either removing or extending eviction moratoriums will continue to impact landlords and tenants.

 

About the author

Melanie Tate is a J.D. candidate at Emory University School of Law. Melanie earned her B.A. in literature from Louisiana State University. She is a 2019 – 2020 legal intern at Caiaccio Law Firm.

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