Some Cleveland Renters Aren't Aware Of What Eviction Ban Means For Them
Carrie Davis, who lives in an apartment in the Buckeye-Woodland area of Cleveland's east side, said she's confused about whether she can get evicted by her landlord.
"One of my neighbors told me they seen on the news where he can't evict me, but I can't tell because I got my eviction court papers with me now,” Davis said.
Davis tried to call the Cleveland Housing Court to find out if she'll be allowed to stay until she finds a new place, but said the court had not yet returned her call.
Cleveland Housing Court officials, however, told ideastream Tuesday they plan to fully enforce the Trump administration’s eviction moratorium that went into effect Sept. 4, for eligible tenents.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the order, which forbids evictions through Dec.31 for many tenants who are unable to pay rent, as part of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In order to avoid eviction, eligible tenants will need to provide the required declaration, to landlords showing they meet specific criteria, such as having lost wages due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tenets will still need to pay rent, or they will owe back rent and face eviction after the moratorium ends.
The Cleveland Housing Court’s staff attorneys and legal team are working to understand the details of the CDC order to enforce it properly, according to the court’s spokesperson Jayah Watters-Clark. The court didn't answer media questions until after the weekend, and Watters-Clark said that was so the team could fully look over the order.
It is possible that many people are not aware that help is available, because the federal mandate has not been widely publicized, Watters-Clark said.
“We’re not authorized to provide tenants with legal advice,” Watters-Clark said. “I have seen that some of our magistrates are asking if they provided their landlords with the declaration form and if they say no, then they just move on.”
While the moratorium will help tenants in the short-term, there needs to be continued rental assistance to help tenants and landlords, said Melanie Shakarian, director of development and communications at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.
“A moratorium with rent assistance is the most effective way to ensure housing stability and safety for tenants, but then also a really solid footing for the landlord business community,” Shakarian said.
Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland also have a rental assistance program to help those who are struggling to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Watters-Clark said.