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Eviction moratorium expires

The federal moratorium on evictions was allowed to expire on July 31, bringing an end to protections enjoyed by tenants who couldn’t pay their rent during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Enacted in September 2020, the moratorium prevented summary ejectment proceedings from being adjudicated for non-payment, but not for holdovers, criminal activity or violations of the lease, like smoking, failure to maintain the property, or pets. To avail themselves of the protections, tenants had to sign a CDC affidavit declaring that they’d used their “best efforts” to obtain rental assistance from governments, earned less than $99,000 a year, lost substantial income during the pandemic due to unemployment or health care costs, would become homeless or have to utilize a shelter or acquaintance for housing, and had attempted to make timely partial payments. Rent forgiveness was never part of the equation, and tenants also had to attest that this was understood. Legal Aid, a statewide nonprofit, provides advice and sometimes representation to tenants who can’t otherwise afford it; in June, Legal Aid attorney Chase Wells told The Smoky Mountain News that once the moratorium ended, he expected “a lot more filings in a short period of time and a lot of fairly large money judgements against tenants who haven’t been paying.”

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