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Tenant Advocates Say Rental Aid Needed As New Eviction Ban Starts

North Carolina tenant advocates are welcoming a surprise federal order announced Tuesday that halts all eviction proceedings nationwide until the end of the year. But Isaac Sturgill of Legal Aid of North Carolina says it may only delay a wave of evictions to the new year. 

"Without rental assistance that's given to tenants and to landlords to help catch up these balances, we could see a spike in evictions during that time," Sturgill said Wednesday. 

The order from the federal Centers for Disease Control formalized a policy President Trump announced in an Aug. 8 executive order. The CDC said the goal is to control the COVID-19 outbreak, which the agency says in its order "presents a historic threat to public health."

Sturgill also warned that tenants must act to take advantage of the delay. The order requires tenants to give landlords a signed declaration that they meet income limits, are at risk of becoming homeless, and have tried to get rental assistance. 

"The requirement under the order is just that the tenant give the affidavit to the landlord. The order doesn't say how that has to happen. It could be email, it could be mail, it could be hand-delivering it," he said. "There's nothing in the order that says the landlord has to agree to accept it." 

Sturgill said a tenant should keep a copy of the affidavit, in case the landlord attempts an eviction. 

The moratorium takes effect Friday and applies only to evictions over nonpayment of rent.

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