Special to Iredell Free News
The State of North Carolina’s evictions moratorium will end July 1 after Republican members of the Council of State rejected a one-month extension, which would have aligned with the national CDC evictions 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,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “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.”
Under the Emergency Management Act, the governor has requested the concurrence of the Council of State for each extension of the eviction moratorium. On Monday, Cooper requested that the Council of State approve extending the moratorium through July in line with the CDC evictions moratorium. The extension would have also given tenants notice that the moratorium would be lifted at the end of July.
A majority of Council of State members rejected this extension, with their votes falling along party lines:
♦ Democrats: Attorney General Josh Stein, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, and State Auditor Beth Wood supported an extension.
♦ Republicans: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, State Treasurer Dale Folwell, Commissioner of Labor Josh Dobson, Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Insurance Mike Causey, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt opposed extending the moratorium.
The CDC evictions moratorium went into effect on September 4, 2020, protecting certain residents, based on income, from being evicted for an inability to pay rent. The CDC indicated that the current 30-day extension is intended to be the final extension of the order. In order to qualify for protection, tenants must attest to meeting the CDC Order’s income and eligibility requirements.
The state evictions order aligned with the CDC Order and implemented important notice requirements for landlords before they could initiate a residential evictions action. The state order required that landlords provide their tenants with a copy of the declaration form they are required to fill out to receive protections under the CDC Order. Without this requirement, many North Carolinians may be unaware of the protections available to them under the federal evictions moratorium and evicted unnecessarily.
The state executive order also specified procedures that must take place once a tenant has provided a landlord with a signed declaration attesting that the tenant qualifies for protection and protected tenants who had been awarded state rental assistance from eviction while payment on awards was processed.
Last fall Cooper created the HOPE Program using federal funds to provide rent and utility assistance to people struggling during the pandemic providing $132 million in assistance to landlords and utilities on behalf of more than 37,000 tenants.
The HOPE Program opened a new eligibility period this spring and is currently accepting applicants. Several counties are also delivering Emergency Rental Assistance through local programs, and their information may be found at the HOPE website. The state evictions moratorium had protected HOPE awardees from eviction. The Council of State decision means that people awarded HOPE funds may be at risk of eviction until checks are processed, an average currently of about 14 days. As of June 28, the HOPE Program had awarded $66 million to 19,000 households since May 17.
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR RENTERS
Some North Carolina renters retain protection against evictions based upon the CDC moratorium.
♦ Received a federal stimulus check in 2020 or 2021, or
♦ Were not required to report income to the IRS in 2020, or
♦ Earn less than $99,000 ($198,000 filing jointly) per year, and
♦ Cannot make rent payments due to lost income,
may provide a signed declaration to their landlord that protects them from eviction while the federal moratorium remains in effect. The declaration form may be found HERE.
Renters with questions may get help from an expert by contacting (800) 569-4287 or going online to get contact information for a North Carolina HUD-approved housing counselor HERE.
Complete details about the HOPE Program or a local Emergency Rental Assistance program, including eligibility requirements, program benefits and an online application, are available at www.hope.nc.gov. Applicants who cannot access the website may also call (888) 9ASK-HOPE or (888) 927-5467.
Applicants who wish to apply for free legal help may call Legal Aid of North Carolina at (866) 219-5262 or apply online HERE.