The state evictions moratorium will end July 1 after Republican members of the Council of State rejected a one-month extension, which would have aligned with the national CDC evictions moratorium through July 31, according to a press release from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.
“It’s disappointing to see Council of State Members revoke eviction protections for people still struggling to stay in their homes,” said Governor Cooper. “Many North Carolinians still need help and we will work to make sure landlords abide by the CDC evictions moratorium and that tenants can access rent and utility assistance from counties and the state HOPE program.”
Under the Emergency Management Act, the Governor has requested the concurrence of the Council of State for each extension of the eviction moratorium. On Monday, the Governor requested that the Council of State approve extending the moratorium through July, in line with the CDC evictions moratorium. The extension would have also given tenants notice that the moratorium would be lifted at the end of July.
A majority of Council of State members rejected this extension, with their votes falling along party lines. Attorney General Josh Stein, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, and State Auditor Beth Wood supported an extension. Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, State Treasurer Dale Folwell, Commissioner of Labor Josh Dobson, Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Insurance Mike Causey, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt opposed extending the moratorium.
“Letting this order expire pushes the power back to the people to make these types of decisions,” Treasurer Dale Folwell said in a separate press release. “What was originally an act of COVID now exists solely as an act of the state. Now, property owners can work with tenants on equitable solutions that are unique to each situation without a ‘one-sizes-fits-all’ government-mandated order. In turn, property owners – especially small property owners – will feel more confident in making more housing available because they know they have a much higher probability of recouping their costs for mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance and repairs.”
Treasurer Folwell noted that as a child of a single mother, his family financially struggled when he was growing up. However, their landlord gave them the “benefit of the doubt,” working with them so they could continue to have shelter.
“I want to thank the other members of the Council of State who voted to end the moratorium,” Treasurer Folwell said. “As Gov. Martin always said, ‘doing right is never wrong’ and this was the right thing to do.”
The CDC evictions moratorium went into effect on September 4, 2020 protecting certain residents, based on income, from being evicted for an inability to pay rent. The CDC indicated that the current 30-day extension is intended to be the final extension of the order. In order to qualify for protection, tenants must attest to meeting the CDC Order’s income and eligibility requirements.
The state evictions order aligned with the CDC Order and implemented important notice requirements for landlords before they could initiate a residential evictions action. The state order required that landlords provide their tenants with a copy of the declaration form they are required to fill out to receive protections under the CDC Order. Without this requirement, many North Carolinians may be unaware of the protections available to them under the federal evictions moratorium and evicted unnecessarily.
The state executive order also specified procedures that must take place once a tenant has provided a landlord with a signed declaration attesting that the tenant qualifies for protection and protected tenants who had been awarded state rental assistance from eviction while payment on awards was processed.
Last fall, Governor Cooper created the HOPE Program using federal funds to provide rent and utility assistance to people struggling during the pandemic providing $132 million in assistance to landlords and utilities on behalf of more than 37,000 tenants.
The HOPE Program opened a new eligibility period this spring and is currently accepting applicants. Several counties are also delivering Emergency Rental Assistance through local programs, and their information may be found at the HOPE website. The state evictions moratorium had protected HOPE awardees from eviction. The Council of State decision means that people awarded HOPE funds may be at risk of eviction until checks are processed, an average currently of about 14 days. As of June 28, the HOPE Program had awarded $66 million to 19,000 households since May 17.
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR RENTERS
Some North Carolina renters retain protection against evictions based upon the CDC moratorium. Renters who:
• Received a federal stimulus check in 2020 or 2021, or
• Were not required to report income to the IRS in 2020, or
• Earn less than $99,000 ($198,000 filing jointly) per year, and
• Cannot make rent payments due to lost income,