NEW ORLEANS - The Council adopted Resolution R-20-110 by District "D" Councilmember Jared Brossett urging New Orleans First and Second City Court officials to suspend residential evictions until August 24, 2020, the deadline established in the federal CARES Act. The many changes in deadlines and suspensions for the possible reopening of courts to residential evictions have created incredible uncertainty for renters and landlords.
The CARES Act prohibits many landlords from charging late fees, issuing a notice to vacate, or filing for eviction until July 25. Since landlords must provide tenants with a notice to vacate before filing for eviction, and the CARES Act requires the notice to vacate provide at least 30 days, the earliest an eviction proceeding can be filed in accordance with the Act is be August 24.
The CARES Act protections will be incredibly difficult to enforce and educate the public about without ensuring protections are universal. Per the resolution, a policy that extends the closure of courts to residential evictions will also help to avoid the confusion and additional paperwork sure to ensue from opening courts to full dockets of cases mostly comprised of landlords prohibited from evicting under the CARES Act.
"Housing insecurity has long been a problem in New Orleans and will only get worse as a result of COVID-19. We need to protect working families and vulnerable populations such as domestic violence victims from eviction during this time. To protect public health, we must decrease housing insecurity. Everyone deserves a safe and secure place to shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Councilmember Brossett. "However, I also understand and am sympathetic to the plight of landlords. I want to help them too. That's why the resolution is also pushing for the state and congressional delegations to provide relief and tax rebates for landlords and mortgage holders who are also struggling. I believe there needs to be more federal legislation that addresses this problem and, therefore, asking for a holistic approach to providing relief."
Several local groups and organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana and Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, have expressed support and gratitude for the Council's swift action.
"On behalf of the ACLU of Louisiana, thank you for championing this resolution. Across the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic has already resulted in widespread and devastating economic consequences, with hundreds of thousands of Louisianans having filed unemployment claims. The 176,000 renters in New Orleans now face unprecedented economic precarity and risk of homelessness. This measure will ensure that courts do not resume eviction proceedings before they can do so safely, and would protect already-vulnerable New Orleans residents from further financial devastation," said ACLU of Louisiana Advocacy Director Chris Kaiser.