Renters facing eviction worry as CDC ban on evictions nears expiration date

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On Dec. 31, the CDC moratorium on evictions expires, leaving many renters facing eviction concerned about what will happen to them. Currently, there’s a public health service act in place that puts a temporary hold on evictions. It started on September 4 and is supposed to last through the end of the year.

Benjamin Pekarek lives in Powell and recently received an eviction notice from his landlord. His wife lost her job and he has taken a large pay cut with his job — all due to the pandemic — causing them to fall behind on rent.

“The eviction was filed here in December. We were supposed to have a hearing Dec. 15. The Knox County General Sessions has been put into a moratorium until Feb. 8. I’m very worried about what happens Feb. 8, where we go from there. If nothing has been put in place between now and Feb. 8, people like us, short of an Airbnb or hotel room, there’s no place for us to go,” Pekarek said.

But one Knoxville lawyer says, even with the eviction ban expiring soon, an eviction notice doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave immediately. An eviction actually takes several steps before it is final.

“Bottom line is, no one is showing up at your house to legally remove your property on the 31st or the 1st. That’s not a thing. What will happen is, is if they haven’t paid, they may get an eviction but the court date will be in February and even when they go to court, they will have at lease 10 days after that by law to vacate the premises,” said Knoxville attorney Jedidiah McKeehan.

McKeehan says landlords will use eviction notices or other intimidation tactics to remove a non-paying tenant, but they do not legally have the right to remove someone without going to court first.

“They (tenants) may not know they can stay on the property, and so they hear these things about landlords trying to get a non paying tenant out of the property and they get fearful. If that happens, they just need to know their rights,” McKeehan said.

A stimulus package is on the table that would extend the eviction moratorium through January 31st.

Late Monday evening, Congress was posed to pass a new stimulus package in a $900 billion COVID relief bill. However, some Republican lawmakers are urging President Trump to veto it.

We will let you know what happens as developments occur.

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