The COVID-19 crisis is having lasting effects.  Stay-at-home orders certainly cannot last forever, but as people venture outside again, their faces covered by masks, they are venturing out into a world of uncertainty.  The CARES Act, enacted in the spring and set to expire at the end of July, was meant as a set of temporary, emergency measures.  It remains to be seen what will replace it, and what the next set of legislation will say about stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, and small business loans, among other matters.  As the shutdown phase of Alabama’s response to the pandemic continues, the courts can now rule on eviction cases, but in practice, it is not possible for evictions now to go back to the way they were before the pandemic.  If tenants in your rental property have fallen behind on rent payments and you are considering eviction, contact an Alabama eviction lawyer.

The Current State of Eviction Cases in Alabama

During the worst of the pandemic, there was a moratorium on evictions, meaning that you could not evict someone no matter how much they owed.  Landlords could file new eviction cases, but the courts would not take any action on them, and courts paused the cases that had already been filed.  On June 1, Gov. Kay Ivey lifted the moratorium, but Alabama counties have responded to the removal of the eviction ban in different ways.  Alabama’s most populous counties have a considerable backlog of eviction cases awaiting judgments.  The Jefferson County courts received 99 new eviction cases in May, while Montgomery, Madison, and Mobile Counties got 66, 64, and 52 cases, respectively.

While judges can approve evictions, a judgment does not give the landlord the right to remove the tenant by changing the locks, moving the tenant’s possessions onto the sidewalk, or any other means.  The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for removing the tenant if they do not move out on their own after receiving the eviction notice.  In some counties, sheriffs are refusing to force tenants out if the reason for eviction is non-payment.  Sgt. John Spivey of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department said that his department evicted a tenant who had set fire to his rented apartment and was convicted of arson.  Sheriffs in other counties have not evicted any tenants.  The Montgomery Volunteer Lawyers Program cautions tenants that they are still responsible for formally responding to any notices they receive about eviction.

Is Eviction the Best Solution?

Landlords of rental properties are in a tight spot during the pandemic; their mortgage payments are still due, whether tenants have been paying rent or not.  What will happen if you evict the tenant, though?  Will you be left with an empty apartment?  Will your new tenant who fills the empty apartment be able to pay?  In some cases, the best solution is to negotiate with your tenants and your mortgage lender.

Let Us Help You Today

An eviction lawyer may be able to help you find alternatives to eviction.  Contact the Alabama eviction attorneys at Cloud Willis & Ellis for help today.