Article edited on Aug. 4 at 3:31 p.m. to clarify that landlords are also eligible for rental assistance.
On Tuesday the Biden administration announced a new ban on evictions for many renters after the moratorium expired this weekend. This was driven largely by the high levels of transmission of COVID-19 in many areas of the US, including Bartow County.
“The Supreme Court had suggested that they use legislative action instead of the CDC extending it on their own,” Bartow County Chief Magistrate Judge Brandon T. Bryson explained. “However, the Supreme Court really didn’t address a lot of the issues with the moratorium because it was about to expire. Since they didn’t do that, the administration was able to come back and hang their hat on some loophole technicality to extend the moratorium even further.”
The CDC moratorium is extended until Oct. 3. However, Judge Bryson warned that the ban specifically applies to evictions for non-payments. If a lease has expired or if someone is renting month-to-month, the renter can still be evicted.
He also emphasized that renters are still required to go to their landlord or to court with a CDC affidavit saying that they are having trouble paying, and that renters will be required to get caught up on payments.
According to a county-level study conducted by Surgo Ventures, an estimated 2,350 households, 19% of renting households in Bartow County, are behind on rent, owing a total of over $7.7 million. This equals an average of $3,297 owed for each household.
Judge Bryson said that evictions based on non-payments are nothing new to Bartow County. However, renters are much further behind on rent than they were before.
Lawmakers have approved $46 billion in rental assistance to both renters and landlords, but that money has proved difficult to distribute to those in need. Judge Bryson urged renters to communicate with their landlords, reach out to the Department of Community Affairs, and to gather documentation.
“I think things are going to be moving easier – moving better – going forward, due to the fact that the states that just got money within the past two months are finally figuring out how to […] disperse it,” said Judge Bryson.
When the moratorium does officially end, Judge Bryson said that there could be a bottleneck effect of millions of households being evicted. However, he said that he hopes the rental assistance can help to prevent that large of an event.
“The money’s there. I just want people to be aware that it’s there, and they can apply for it,” he said. “And there’s plenty of it there that they should be able to get any of their arrearages caught up.”