Important things to know as a renter as COVID-19 eviction moratorium comes to an end

Local News

(WKBN) – For tenants who haven’t been paying rent because of the pandemic, there’s an important date coming up.

Earlier this week, Community Legal Aid sent out a reminder that on June 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction protection order will expire.

Community Legal Aid wants people facing eviction to know their rights.

The Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley is expecting to see more people needing housing with the expiration of the COVID-19 eviction moratorium.

“We’ve been thinking that this ‘season of lower numbers’ is short-term and are expecting these numbers to increase, especially when we get into our new facility,” said John Muckridge, president of the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.

“Unfortunately, many have still not recovered financially from the pandemic and they’re at risk of becoming homeless. So we are hoping either they have a defense to the eviction or, more importantly, that we can negotiate a settlement between the landlord and the tenant,” said Patricia Dugan, an attorney at Community Legal Aid.

Dugan talked about the process of being evicted, starting with the fact that most tenants being evicted can’t afford an attorney.

“Unfortunately, if you keep track in eviction court, you’ll see that about 90 percent of the landlords have lawyers representing them and only about 10 percent of the tenants do because, truthfully, if you had the money to pay a lawyer, you’d be able to pay your rent,” Dugan said.

Dugan explained how important it is that the tenant has representation during eviction cases.

“So that they know their rights and actually know what their options are,” she said.

Dugan walked through the steps of what a tenant should do if they get an eviction notice. The tenant should start with organizations like MYCAP and Catholic Charities, which can sometimes provide assistance with paying rent. Talking to their landlord and trying to come up with a deal may help as well. Finally, you should reach out to Community Legal Aid for help. Lawyers at Community Legal Aid will then try their best to keep people in their homes.

“It’s going to be important because I feel that the homeless shelter and other places are just going to be overwhelmed come the end of the month when the hearings start happening,” Dugan said.

Community Legal Aid is available to help those facing eviction, as well as the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.

“If they do fall into homelessness and need a place to stay to come down to the Rescue Mission,” Muckridge said.

If you would like to learn your rights as a renter, you can pick up a booklet at Community Legal Aid that explains landlord and renter responsibilities.

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