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‘Really hectic’: Dozens file evictions when court reopens

Updated: Jun. 16, 2020 at 10:13 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Several dozen renters may soon see eviction notices on their door. Tuesday was the first day landlords were able to start the process to evict their tenants since Governor John Bel Edwards’ statewide moratorium ended.

Everyone who goes to the Orleans Parish Civil Court to file an eviction gets an affidavit that must be signed and notarized. Plus they must fill out a three-page packet of how evictions will work with the CARES Act now in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After several extensions of the governor mandated moratorium on evictions, landlords can once again file to have their tenant removed.

“Right now, I would say we are approaching at least 70 evictions, already, which is by far more than any other say my office has had to deal with,” says First City Clerk of Court Austin Badon.

New filings were down to a trickle by late afternoon Tuesday. But Badon says his workers will likely be swamped for several days.

“We gave the paperwork out to a lot of other people who decided to take it home, fill it out, get it notarized and they’ll probably be back,” says Badon. “I anticipate a steady stream throughout the rest of the week.”

Badon extended office hours for the expected surge but he says there are a number of landlords who will have to wait.

“If those tenants are on a Section 8 voucher, so, if the landlord is a recipient of a federally backed mortgage or accepting a Section 8 voucher, they cannot be evicted until June 25.”

In fact, all landlords must turn in a signed affidavit promising they don’t fall under these categories.

Attorney Jonathan Giepert turned in his clients’s affidavit Tuesday morning along with his filing documents. He says the tenant issue for the landlord he represents started before the pandemic.

“She’s been living in there for several months much to his chagrin,” says Giepert.

Other property owners say they were eager for courts to re-open due to long-term, problem renters.

“I think there is a serious public safety issue when you cannot evict a nuisance tenant for breaking other various violations in the lease,” says landlord Anthony Marullo.

Marullo believes a lot of the landlords filing evictions now are in similar situations, saying it doesn’t make sense to evict solely due to the COVID related hardship.

“As a landlord the last thing you want is you occupancy to drop from somewhere in the mid 90 percent down to 70 percent or 60 percent. So, it’s actually more beneficial the landlord will work with their tenants,” says Marullo.

Some affordable housing advocates say, for some, the end of the moratorium signals a greater worry and concern.

Leaders with Housing NOLA are worried some of those renters could be unemployed or underemployed due to the COVID-19 virus.

They say while they are not opposed to the end of the moratorium, they believe financial assistance should be available of those affected by the pandemic.

The Executive Director of Housing NOLA, Andreanecia Morris, says many service industry and hospitality workers still don’t have jobs or, if they do, the hours to survive.

“We are expecting to see a significant amount of evictions across the state. There’s going to be another wave when the moratorium on the CARES Act ends in July and we are still failing to take care of the basic needs of our people,” says Morris.

“It’s just much better to work with them and giving these lending institutions have worked with us, the majority of them, I feel like we need tom we have a responsibility, in turn, to work with our tenants,” says Marullo.

Landlords like Marullo say as long as the renter was in good standing before the pandemic, it’s more cost effective to come up with a payment plan.

The price of kicking someone out and prepping for another tenant doesn’t pay off.

The courts will be processing the pre-pandemic eviction cases first.

Expanded office hours will be this week from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

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