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Evictions still happening during the moratorium

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 1:56 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - West Monroe Marshal William Guyton says evictions are starting to pick back up in the city, even though the eviction moratorium is still in place.

“At the beginning, it was rough and then they kind of slacked up, and people started paying. Well, now, it’s coming back worse than it did the first time, cause they’re just not paying period,” says Guyton. “And we just try to ask them to go ahead and be fair and pay something, pay whatever you can pay.”

The moratorium on evictions was pushed back to March 31st, meaning those who aren’t paying rent can’t be evicted until that date.

However, there are still ways to evict people.

“We did an eviction Friday that was just about totally destroyed, it was like a junkyard, a scrapyard, a trash yard, garbage everywhere,” says Guyton.

According to the CDC’s order, “nothing in this Order precludes evictions based on a tenant, lessee, or resident: (1) Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises; (2) threatening the health or safety of other residents; (3) damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property; (4) violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or (5) violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).”

“We’ve got some people calling furious because they aren’t going to continue their lease agreements, like their leases are coming up, expiring, and they get them out on the expiration of the lease when they’re not paying,” explains Guyton.

Marshal Guyton says his office did 84 evictions between March and December of 2020. Between March and December of 2019, he says they did 144 evictions.

With evictions beginning to pick back up in West Monroe, Guyton says he expects the trend to continue when the moratorium expires.

“The first day that you could file for evictions back last year, they were standing in line here at this door to come in on that Monday morning,” explains Guyton. “They were filing those evictions, and they got those evictions granted, but they had a time limit that they had to do it in, and then the moratorium came back into full effect before they had time to evict them.”

He says he hopes renters can have conversations with their landlords about their situation to figure out a compromise before it’s too late.

“We’re going to be loaded with lawsuits, the landlords are going to be suing the renters and they say ‘well don’t worry about it, we ain’t got nothing, so you can’t get nothing’, well that’s a different way of looking at it. They’ll go bankrupt and eventually they’ll get it, they may not get it all, but they’ll get some of it.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2015-2019, there were 54,164 renter-occupied units in Northeast Louisiana. The rate of all occupied homes lived in by homeowners is 67.78%, and the rate of all occupied homes lived in by renters is 32.21% in NELA.

You can find data specific to each parish in NELA here.

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