Evictions Continue Despite Moratorium, Court Closures
With North Carolina courts closed for in-person appearances through mid-January due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, eviction hearings are temporarily put on pause.
But eviction proceedings that are already in progress continue.
Outgoing North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley halted non-essential in-person court proceedings for 30 days, effective December 14.
But this doesn’t stop sheriff's deputies from carrying out writs of possession from eviction cases that have already been decided. That’s the mechanism allowing landlords to reclaim property by forcing the current tenant out.
These actions are continuing during a federal eviction moratorium, created to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The moratorium hasn’t been followed evenly across the state despite mounting evidence that evictions could increase COVID-19 numbers, and be linked to thousands of coronavirus deaths nationally.
Advocacy groups like Housing Justice Now are calling for the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office to cease lockouts during what some locally, and nationally, are calling a housing crisis.
Legal Aid of North Carolina recently sued the state Association of Courts (AOC) for their guidance suggesting local magistrates did not have to follow through with the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention moratorium. That case was ultimately dismissed.
According to Legal Aid, district court trials — including evictions appealed from small claims court — will resume via video conferencing during the first week of January.