CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – On Friday, the CDC released an eviction moratorium that would stop evictions until the end of this year, but it’s not that simple.
The moratorium does not immediately protect renters from being evicted. The guidelines look great on paper, but the CDC can only suggest them, stopping an eviction still has to be approved by a judge and that leaves a big gray area.
In West Virginia, there is an absolute for tenants to pay their rent.
Legal Aid of West Virginia Attorney Timothy Litten said, “There isn’t any kind of law or statutory provision that says if you lose your job, or you become sick or you become pregnant, that you can without paying rent, you have to keep paying regardless.”
But with the COVID-19 pandemic, that sort of got thrown on its ear. For federal housing and in some states and cities eviction moratoriums were put in place until July 31.
West Virginia was not one of those states, even though COVID-19 hits renters here too.
“I understand from the landlord’s standpoint, evicting good people is the wrong thing to do, now I understand you got a business to run and things you have to do, but evicting people is the plain wrong thing to do,” West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said.
On Sept. 4, the CDC released guidelines that would temporarily stop eviction cases through the end of the year under certain conditions:
- The individual’s income is $99,000 or less.
- The individual sought government assistance.
- The individual lost income or has substantial medical bills.
- The individual make partial rent payments.
- The individual would become homeless if evicted.
It still all comes down to timing, for the renter to pay, and the landlord to file an eviction notice.
“If the landlord already filed before Sept. 4 and there may have been a hearing in magistrate or circuit court and the tenant has already been evicted, again, does the way the order’s writing – being broad and lose, does it go as far as the sheriff forcefully removing them from the property,” said Litten.
For those nearing or facing eviction, Legal Aid of WV offers services to help prevent eviction.