8,000 North Dakotans Fear Eviction In Next 2 Months. Concerned?
I've never been evicted, but I've known a few people that have. It's always been a stressful situation for both parties involved. Understandably, landlords need to keep cash flow going to cover the expenses of the property. Also understandable, that in many cases, mandated business closures cut off renters income sources and left them months behind. If you're living paycheck to paycheck, it's pretty near impossible to catch up.
Fortunately federal funds were made available to the states to offset these financial hardships. In an eye-opening report from the Associate Press, North Dakota took nearly $3 million from the federal CARES Act in 2020 and applied it to Emergency Rental Assistance. Although North Dakota did not officially proclaim a moratorium on evictions, there was a federal freeze enacted in September of 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That freeze on evictions is set to expire July 31st.
I can only believe there will be property owners and management companies jumping in line to evict those that are seriously in arrears with their rent. Evictions were on the rise in North Dakota far before COVID-19, data the AP gained from the state Supreme Court shows that eviction judgments in the state increased 15% a year from 2016-2019! That's an alarming increase, figure maybe it has to do with declining oil jobs? Well that turned around in 2020 when evictions actually declined 15%. Clearly that was traceable to the federal moratorium and rent assistance.
This year, North Dakota has received $352 million in federal emergency rental assistance. But you have to qualify, and more importantly you have to apply which you do right here. Doing nothing stacks the odds seriously in the landlords favor. The executive director for Legal Services of North Dakota, Richard LeMay lays it out pretty bluntly-
“Courts do not spend a lot of time on eviction hearings,” Lemay said. “The larger counties usually proceed by cattle call and if the defendant/tenant doesn’t show up the complaint is granted without questioning the plaintiff.”
“I would have to estimate that at least 90% of all filings (in the past year) resulted in eviction and also a money judgment,” Lemay said. “Some judges are taking it upon themselves to say ‘no’ to evictions, but they are the minority.”
So once the federal government steps away on July 31st, you could be stepping into court and out of your home. Because it may be your home...but, it's their house.