CHARLOTTE — Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday that North Carolina’s evictions moratorium will end July 1.
Six North Carolina Republican officials voted on Tuesday to end statewide eviction protections for renters starting Thursday, rejecting Cooper’s request to extend the state’s eviction moratorium by one month.
According to Cooper, Republican members of the Council of State rejected a one-month extension, which would have aligned with the national CDC evictions moratorium through July 31.
Cooper’s administration warns the move by Republicans is likely to inject further chaos and confusion for landlords and tenants. Critics note North Carolina’s policies will cease to align with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recently extended its national eviction moratorium through July 31.
Regardless, eligible North Carolina renters will be able to remain in their homes through the end of July.
The Supreme Court voted Tuesday night to leave the pandemic-inspired nationwide ban on evictions in place until July 31. North Carolina must abide by the CDC’s rules.
”It’s disappointing to see Council of State Members revoke eviction protections for people still struggling to stay in their homes,” Cooper said earlier. “Many North Carolinians still need help and we will work to make sure landlords abide by the CDC evictions moratorium and that tenants can access rent and utility assistance from counties and the state HOPE program.”
Under the Emergency Management Act, the governor has requested the concurrence of the Council of State for each extension of the eviction moratorium. On Monday, the governor requested that the Council of State approve extending the moratorium through July, in line with the CDC evictions moratorium.
The extension would have also given tenants notice that the moratorium would be lifted at the end of July.
“The governor doesn’t have to do anything for the CDC order to continue applying to North Carolinians,” said Sean Driscoll, a spokesperson for Legal Aid of North Carolina. “There will not be mass evictions until Aug. 1 because the CDC order will still be in place and apply.”
The nonprofit law firm assists low-income renters facing the threat of eviction.
Last fall, Cooper created the HOPE Program using federal funds to provide rent and utility assistance to people struggling during the pandemic providing $132 million in assistance to landlords and utilities on behalf of more than 37,000 tenants. You may qualify if you make 80% of the area’s median income. For the Charlotte metro area, that’s about $62,000. The HOPE Program opened a new eligibility period this spring and is currently accepting applicants. You can apply even if you got money during the first round.
Several counties are also delivering Emergency Rental Assistance through local programs, and their information may be found at the HOPE website. The state evictions moratorium had protected HOPE awardees from eviction. The Council of State decision means that people awarded HOPE funds may be at risk of eviction until checks are processed, an average currently of about 14 days.
As of June 28, the HOPE Program had awarded $66 million to 19,000 households since May 17.
The CDC evictions moratorium went into effect on Sept. 4, 2020 protecting certain residents, based on income, from being evicted for an inability to pay rent. The CDC indicated that the current 30-day extension, which ends on July 31, is intended to be the final extension of the order.
The moratorium only protects renters from losing their homes. It doesn’t mean they don’t owe their landlords all those months of missed rent once it ends.
(WATCH: Action 9 explains latest on eviction moratorium)
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR RENTERS: Some North Carolina renters retain protection against evictions based upon the CDC moratorium. Renters who:
- Received a federal stimulus check in 2020 or 2021, or
- Were not required to report income to the IRS in 2020, or
- Earn less than $99,000 ($198,000 filing jointly) per year, and
- Cannot make rent payments due to lost income
If you fall under those categories, you may provide a signed declaration to your landlord that protects from eviction while the federal moratorium remains in effect. The declaration form may be found here.
Renters with questions may get help from an expert by contacting (800) 569-4287 or going online to get contact information for a North Carolina HUD-approved housing counselor, here.
Complete details about the HOPE Program or a local Emergency Rental Assistance program, including eligibility requirements, program benefits and an online application, are available here.
Applicants who cannot access the website may also call (888) 9ASK-HOPE or (888) 927-5467.Applicants who wish to apply for free legal help may call Legal Aid of North Carolina at (866) 219-5262 or apply online here.
When the CDC moratorium ends, a lot of renters may lose their homes -- but not necessarily the next day. That’s because the courts still have to set dates for the hearings and hear the cases. And there’s such a backlog, some cases may not go before a judge for weeks.
Some landlords went through the process and got evictions right when the ban was starting, but couldn’t act on them. Now, they’ll be able to.
Many leases ended during the pandemic and landlords didn’t renew them, so they can kick out renters more easily.
People in Cabarrus, Gaston, Mecklenburg and Union counties can also apply to different local programs. Here are a few:
- Emergency Rental Assistance Program
- 704-920-1400, Ext. 4
- Emergency Rental Assistance Program
Mecklenburg County and City of Charlotte:
- COVID -19 Rent and Mortgage Program
- Emergency Rental Assistance Program
Tenants still protected as NC eviction moratorium nears end
Tuesday’s decision from the North Carolina Council of State, which was split along party lines, is likely to increase the number of evictions, particularly for tenants with less income, less understanding of how to file for federal evictions protections and a lack of awareness of state and local rental relief programs.
Starting Thursday, landlords will no longer be required to give tenants they are seeking to evict a copy of a form from the CDC’s website informing them of their right not to be evicted solely because of nonpayment of rent. North Carolinians can still be evicted for reasons unrelated to nonpayment of rent, such as property destruction.
North Carolina’s eviction protections are set to expire on Wednesday. For months, they have strengthened the CDC moratorium by requiring landlords to give the CDC form to the tenants they are seeking to evict.
It will also soon be easier for property owners to evict people who may still be navigating through the Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions Program (HOPE) process. The program helps residents in 88 smaller counties in the state pay their rent or utility bills. Twelve larger counties manage similar assistance programs. Republicans and Democrats alike want more people to take advantage of the $1.3 billion in rent and utility payment assistance that remains largely unused.
“It’s disappointing to see Council of State members revoke eviction protections for people still struggling to stay in their homes,” Cooper said in a statement. “Many North Carolinians still need help and we will work to make sure landlords abide by the CDC evictions moratorium and that tenants can access rent and utility assistance from counties and the state HOPE program.”
Many Republicans and landlord advocacy groups believe the moratorium has been on the books for too long. They argue the original intent of the eviction moratorium was to limit the spread of COVID-19. With vaccines now widely available, they find the moratorium unnecessary.
State Treasurer Dale Folwell supported Cooper’s original order in May 2020 to halt evictions but has since opposed efforts to extend the statewide moratorium. He sees a larger problem with housing supply and affordability fueled by lower vacancy rates.
“This policy was originally an act of COVID and it became an act of the state, and I think it was hampering and preventing people from being able to rent,” Folwell said in an interview.
He noted other states have ended their eviction moratoriums. He called Tuesday’s vote to end the state moratorium directive “one step towards getting back to normalcy.”
The North Carolina Association of Realtors had urged Cooper to let the statewide moratorium order expire and was pleased Republican members of the Council of State moved to end it.
“It is time to allow housing providers to participate in the economic recovery that has been afforded to so many other struggling industries,” the group said in a statement.
North Carolinians facing the threat of eviction and unsure of whether they can remain in their homes through July 31 can call 800-569-4287 to seek housing counseling. To qualify for federal eviction protections, tenants must have made less than $99,000 in 2020 or expect to earn less than that amount this year. The income threshold for those who file their taxes jointly is $198,000. Tenants can also qualify to remain in their homes if they’ve received a stimulus check or not been required to report income to the Internal Revenue Service.
Additionally, those seeking eviction protection must verify they cannot pay their full rent or make a full housing payment because their household income has gone down substantially, they’ve been laid off from work, their work hours or wages have been cut or they have extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses.
(WATCH: ‘Like a stab in the back’: Homeless family’s belongings tossed during eviction)
©2021 Cox Media Group