PHOENIX — Mandatory move-out dates are coming for thousands of Arizona renters who were delinquent in monthly payments after the U.S. Supreme Court ended the CDC's eviction moratorium.
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Country Meadows Justice of the Peace Anna Huberman, had 400 to 500 eviction cases a month prior to the pandemic, which is more than any other judge in Maricopa County.
As landlords and tenants appeared by video conference Friday for hearings, Judge Huberman told them about the changing rules. No more will COVID-related illness or financial hardships be a factor.
"On a personal level, I can feel for the situation they’re going through," Huberman said. "As a judge, though, I do need to follow the rules of the statutes and the orders that we have been given."
In one case Friday, the renter owed nearly $10,000. Landlords, who are eager to get restitution and replace non-paying tenants, will have to wait at least a few more days. In many cases, they must return to court to finalize the paperwork.
Judge Huberman added new eviction cases may take several weeks.
"There is nothing stopping the landlords today from giving a tenant a notice of nonpayment of rent and then filing an eviction action," Huberman said. "When the case is actually filed in court, we could look at as little as 15 to 20 days."
Huberman said her eviction caseload in the last year was 50% below typical levels. It's unclear how big of an eviction backlog exists because some renters may have moved out voluntarily or caught up on their payments.
There are concerns a flood of evictions would put families on the street and overwhelm homeless services. Social service agencies hope to inject hope. Wildfire, an anti-poverty nonprofit agency, told ABC15 that 35% of their rental assistance funds are still available.
"If an application is submitted completely, so all the documentation is in place, it can probably take a couple of weeks from application to payment," said Wildfire Executive Director Cynthia Zwick. Incomplete applications take longer.
Zwick encouraged individuals facing eviction to continue talking to their landlords to work out opportunities to stay, to prevent evictions, and to continue working out payment plans for those who are behind in their rent.
Wildfire said its funding could be used for payment of overdue rent, future rent payments, and utility bills.