NC Courts stop evictions and foreclosures as part of coronavirus response

Affordable housing reporter, Lauren Lindstrom explains tenant rights and the eviction process. 

MARCH 16, 2020 12:04 PM

North Carolina will stop eviction and foreclosure hearings for the next 30 days as part of the court system’s latest effort to reduce courthouse traffic and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

While the announcement offers some potential relief to the state’s at-risk families, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office said this morning that pending eviction orders will be carried out, an announcement that drew immediate criticism from advocates and elected officials alike.

In a memo released Sunday, Cheri Beasley, chief justice of the state Supreme Court, expanded a list of extraordinary restrictions on courthouse activity for the state’s 100 counties. The first round of changes was announced Friday.

“Put simply, it cannot be business as usual for our court system,” Beasley said in her memo. “Non-essential court functions that cannot be accomplished through the use of remote technology must be postponed.”

The halt on foreclosures and evictions should have an immediate impact on courthouse traffic. Mecklenburg County, for example, has more than 30,000 evictions a year, which normally run daily through a series of courtrooms in the county courthouse.

More than 16,500 Wake County households faced a possible eviction in 2019, according to the North Carolina Housing Coalition, while more than 460 families in Wake County faced a possible foreclosure, the News & Observer reported.

Beasley’s announcement offers some potentially good news, at least temporarily, to at-risk families. Daily lives for low-income households already been shaken by the closing of schools and the waves crashing through the economy, especially the service and hospitality industries.

The speed and sweep of the court changes in North Carolina has led to some contradictory messages.

Beasley said Sunday that courthouse marriages should go on — two days after the Mecklenburg County courts announced that it has suspended the ceremonies as part of its local coronavirus response.

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