CHARLOTTE — Tenants who can’t afford to pay their rent can breathe a sigh of relief -- for now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended the eviction moratorium that was set to expire on March 31 until the end of June.
“I was way nervous. I was just so upset, thinking, ‘What am I going to do?,’” a renter who asked Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke not to use her real name said. “Now, I feel so much better. So much better.”
She thinks the extra time will help a lot of people.
“It’s going to help so many families that really need help right now ... it’s giving everyone a chance to get back on their feet,” she said.
She said in December the North Carolina Hope Program agreed to pay her rent, but she was still waiting for the money. The extension gives her three more months.
“Hopefully, that will all fall into place and put me back where I was before,” she said.
Isaac Sturgill of Legal Aid thinks the extension is helping to slow the spread of COVD-19 by making it possible for people to stay in their homes and out of crowded settings such as homeless shelters.
“The extension of the moratorium will hopefully allow time for over half a billion dollars of recently approved rental assistance to be distributed to landlords,” Sturgill said.
“The extension of the CDC eviction moratorium will bring relief to thousands of local households who are still struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Liana Humphrey of Crisis Assistance Ministry.
“The threat of eviction causes additional stress and trauma for those who are already dealing with unemployment, child care, health and mental health concerns. While the moratorium provides additional breathing room for these families, we encourage them to seek help now with past due rent and utility bills, and not wait until the moratorium is finally lifted to get current on their bills,” she said.
According to Zillow, as of March 15, in North Carolina there are 149,551 total people who were behind on rent payments. The number of households evicted could be as low as 197 or as high as 21,292. Of those noncurrent renters, 13.1% say they are “very likely” and 24.1% say they are “somewhat likely” to be evicted once the moratorium ends.
But many landlords, such as Mark Poulton, are worried about their own finances.
“It’s difficult. We are able to manage through it, but it’s definitely a burden on us,” he told Stoogenke. “We have at least two properties now that aren’t performing at all. We aren’t getting rent from them at all.”
The National Apartment Association did a study recently that estimated landlords in the Charlotte area were out $829 million, and that 88,000 people rely on jobs tied to the rental industry.
The Greater Charlotte Apartment Association sent Channel 9 the following statement:
“For the last year, local governments and landlords have worked together to ensure that eligible renters received assistance and were able to stay in their homes. It is unfortunate that policymakers continue to rely on eviction moratoria and inadequate emergency rent/utility funding to solve the crisis despite the fact that struggling renters continue to accrue insurmountable debt that will eventually become due.
“Cancelling rent is no more an option than asking the grocery stores to not expect payment for a basic necessity like food. Ultimately, our association’s perspective is that you cannot have eviction moratoria without having rental assistance that is as expedient in its positive benefit to rental housing providers as the moratorium is to renters.”
The association’s board president, Deidre Wilson, said landlords have been carrying the burden for almost an entire year and “the time is drawing near when they will no longer be able to do so.”
“Stop gap policies like eviction moratoria jeopardize the ability of housing providers to pay their debt service and sustain rental housing portfolios,” Wilson said.
Important information for renters:
- The eviction moratorium has been extended through June 30.
- Tenants who cannot pay their rent are required to submit a legal document to their landlord. Click here to download the form.
- Landlords cannot evict tenants for not paying rent, but they can evict someone for other reasons, so tenants should make sure they honor their lease.
- Landlords can file eviction papers to get the eviction process started at the end of June, but they cannot make you leave before then.
- If a landlord tries to make a tenant leave before June 30, the renter should contact Legal Aid (legalaidnc.org).