Landlords fear eviction moratorium could have long-term effect on North Carolina housing

1

North Carolina's eviction moratorium ends Thursday, but many believe landlords and tenants will continue to struggle even after the extended national moratorium expires.

Republican members of the North Carolina Council of State rejected a one-month extension of the moratorium that would have aligned the state with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's eviction moratorium through July 31.

“It's disappointing to see Council of State Members revoke eviction protections for people still struggling to stay in their homes,” Gov. Roy Cooper said after the vote Tuesday. “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.”

The CDC issued its eviction ban in September. The state moratorium, issued in October, requires landlords to provide tenants with a copy of a declaration form they are mandated to fill out to receive protections under the CDC order. Greensboro Landlord Association Executive Director Jennifer Dille said the association would like to see the end of the moratorium altogether.

Dille said it has pushed some landlords to sell their properties and leave the rental industry. She believes this would have a lasting effect on the affordable housing availability in the area.

“Since most of our landlords own single-family homes, [and] none have large apartment complexes, the rental housing market has lost an important segment for families to live in,” Dille said in a statement.

Dille said most Greensboro Landlord Association members have had only a few situations where their tenants defaulted on rent. In those situations, the landlords have worked out payment plans with the tenants and helped them get signed up for federal rental assistance.

However, landlords said payments from the federal programs have been slow, leaving them to carry the financial burden for several months.

Cooper has touted his rental assistance program, the N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) program. Created with Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, it directs payments to landlords on behalf of tenants. According to a June 2 news release from Cooper's office, the program awarded $133 million to more than 36,000 applicants in its first phase. As of June 1, 8,000 people have applied for financial assistance, and the state has awarded $9.5 million to low-income renters since the program's relaunch in May.

Even with millions more in rental assistance available through the American Rescue Plan Act, housing advocates said the aid is not enough. According to data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition report, North Carolina has issued $107 per household in rental assistance.

Dille said some Greensboro landlords have suffered financially because of the CDC eviction moratorium. In some instances, she said, tenants falsely have filled out the CDC declaration form, stating they are unable to pay rent because of financial hardship from the pandemic.

“Sadly, since there has been no oversight for those perjuring themselves, the landlords' hands have been tied,” Dille said. “The tenant refuses to return calls or respond to emails, texts, and or certified letters from the landlord to work out a payment plan or help them get signed up for rental assistance.”

Dille said one landlord watches her tenant leave each day for work and come home with shopping bags.

The moratorium did not just deprive housing providers of a profit. It left many landlords unable to pay their own mortgages and property taxes, New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) Attorney Jared McClain said.

The NCLA has sued to block the CDC moratorium from being implemented. On Tuesday, five Supreme Court justices agreed with NCLA arguments that the CDC does not have the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium. He hopes the Court of Appeals strikes down the federal moratorium soon.

“Most housing providers will never be able to recoup the tens of thousands of dollars in rent they lost over the past year, and many – particularly those with only a unit or two – will continue to endure the financial consequences for years to come,” McClain said.

View original post