Nearly 10,000 eviction notices issued across five states in past month: report

Nearly 10,000 eviction notices issued across five states in past month: report
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Almost 10,000 eviction actions have reportedly been filed in five states across the country despite a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moratorium issued in September.

Corporate landlords in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas have filed thousands of eviction notices, according to NBC News, citing information gathered by the nonprofit Private Equity Stakeholder Project, which looks at how private equity affects communities.

The CDC moratorium disallowed landlords from evicting tenants for not paying rent if they have been harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. As NBC News notes, the CDC considered this move critical to stopping the spread of coronavirus, estimating that nearly 40 million people would lose their homes if it were not for the eviction ban.

In order to be eligible for eviction protection, an individual must prove to their landlord five criteria: they have made attempts to gain government assistance, make less than $99,000 a year, are unable to make rent due to a "substantial loss of income," are making efforts to pay as much as they can on time and that eviction would leave them homeless or in a close-quarter shared living space.

The ban does not stop landlords from evicting tenants due to reasons such as property damage and criminal activity.

In its report, NBC News looked at the case of Cristina Velez, who said she was nearly evicted by her landlord, Progress Residential. She told the network that she was not aware of the eviction ban, and her landlord never informed her of it.

"I told them I was affected by COVID, but it didn't matter to them. They are not very patient," Velez said. She added that she ultimately was forced to sell her car in order to pay the $4,210.14 in rent and legal fees after Progress Residential filed evictions proceedings against her.

Progress Residential owns more than 40,000 single-family homes across the country, NBC News noted.

"Progress Residential complies with applicable law, including the CDC Moratorium, in enforcing rental evictions,” the company said in a statement to the network. “Importantly, as part of the CDC Moratorium, tenants are required to provide a declaration that makes clear they are unable to pay rent due to the impact of Covid-19."

Jim Baker, executive director of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, said the numbers from just these five states likely indicate a larger issue to come.

“The decisions of large companies to advance evictions despite the moratorium quite literally threatens the health of residents and the broader public,” he told NBC News.

The CDC moratorium does not cancel payments. Residents must still pay the amount owed, and a CDC notice clarifying the rules of the moratorium is reportedly believed to be responsible for a recent rise in evictions. 

The CDC specified that landlords are not banned from beginning eviction proceedings, even if they cannot remove residents, and landlords are not required to inform their residents of the evictions ban. Landlords are also allowed to challenge any claims of inability to pay rent due to the pandemic, and there is no appeal process for tenants if claims are rejected.

The moratorium is expected to end on Dec. 31.