Image via Shutterstock. NC's eviction moratorium ends Saturday.
Image via Shutterstock.

With NC’s economy still badly wounded by the coronavirus, family policy experts say they’re worried about a sudden spike in evictions.

With NC’s eviction moratorium set to end Saturday, some family policy experts are worried about what comes next with the state’s economy still badly wounded by the coronavirus.

Gov. Roy Cooper ordered the moratorium this spring to aid tenants experiencing income loss due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cooper extended the order on May 30, putting a temporary hold on eviction hearings until June 20. 

Under Cooper’s order, tenants cannot be evicted for late or missing rent payments, but once the moratorium ends, residents have at least six months from June 20 to pay any rent due during the time period.

The order also banned any utility disconnections from missed payments. Customers will now be given six months from July 29 to pay their late bills.

On Tuesday, a study from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy said the most vulnerable will pay the price of evictions. Children who experience eviction are more likely to come from low income families, belong to communities of color, and have special education needs, the study affirmed.

“Once moratoriums [on rent] expire, additional housing policies are needed to continue support of these vulnerable children and families in the months and years ahead,” said Anna Gassman-Pines, an associate professor of public policy and psychology and neuroscience at the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Hillsborough-based attorney Jaime Paulen told WTVD-TV that she’s concerned a sudden wave of evictions could spur a spike in coronavirus infections.

“Those people are going to have to go someplace,” Paulen said. “Either they go on the street or they find someone to live with. And people are gonna be living in close proximity to each other.”

Paulsen has urged renters to push local lawmakers for an extension of the eviction moratorium.  

Landlords express frustration with the freeze, tenants report violations

Cooper’s order has drawn criticism from landlords, who claim that tenants have taken advantage of the freeze.

“You’re telling us as a government that we cannot evict because of the pandemic,” Charlotte landlord Crystal Jeeter told WCNC-TV. “I have some [tenants] now that have even gone back to work and because they know they can’t be affected they’re choosing not to pay.”

Once tenants start paying back rent after the order expires, landlords are not allowed to charge late fees or interest.

Some say one problem with the order is that it sets no moratorium on mortgage payments for landlords. Instead, the eviction freeze states landlords should be allowed to receive assistance through proposed Small Business Administration (SBA) loans or debt forgiveness programs.

But tenants, many of whom don’t know their rights, have been victimized by landlords feeling the pinch from the rental freeze, and are now evicting renters illegally, Paulen said.

One tenant agreed to pay rent with odd jobs around the property, but the landlord suddenly reneged on the deal, Paulen said. Another landlord removed the deadbolt from a renter’s front door in order to force them out.

Check back with Cardinal & Pine for more updates on the eviction moratorium.