Changes in eviction moratoriums, uncertainties for renters

Sam Moccia

For many students, the eviction crisis looming across the United States has added a massive layer atop the already immense weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In August, it was estimated that between 19-23 million people across the U.S. were at risk of eviction, according to The Guardian.

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“It would be great if (students) would try to negotiate more protections into the lease for themselves, such as a helpful early termination clause, a shorter lease term, longer grace period on when rent is due, etc.” -Kathleen Harward, director of CSU Student Legal Services

Fears of eviction may be exacerbated by uncertainty over whether or not new federal financial aid will become law, as prior federal unemployment benefits expired two months ago.

Early this September, the federal government issued a moratorium through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, months after Colorado’s own moratorium expired.

An executive order signed by Governor Jared Polis the same week extended the mandatory notice period for an eviction in Colorado, requiring landlords to give tenants 30 days of warning before pursuing an eviction, but a previous statewide moratorium wasn’t renewed, leaving the federal order to take its place. 

The federal moratorium requires applicants to prove they attempted to pay rent and sought existing federal housing aid, according to MSN.

The moratorium also doesn’t prevent rent fees or penalties for unpaid rent, and according to a Sept. 7 Coloradoan article, it will likely fall on individual local judges to decide on if an eviction case falls within the federal moratorium. 

With such uncertainty surrounding eviction during the pandemic, students have options to try to better protect themselves.

“It would be great if (students) would try to negotiate more protections into the lease for themselves, such as a helpful early termination clause, a shorter lease term, longer grace period on when rent is due, etc.,” said Kathleen Harward, director of Colorado State University Student Legal Services. 

Harward added that eviction law is massively complex and nuanced, demanding very precise procedures and advance notice as well as particular grounds for eviction. 

“Eviction law requires that the landlord follow procedures to a tee in order to carry forward the eviction,” Harward said. “We can look at the whole and advise the student.”

Additional non-legal support services available through other local non-profit housing assistance agencies are also available throughout Fort Collins for students in need.

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As one example of these life-changing programs currently working to assist renters, Neighbor to Neighbor in Fort Collins has seen their number of residents seeking assistance with rent rise exponentially during the pandemic, according to the Coloradoan.

Despite widespread concerns, this year has still seen far fewer evictions in Larimer County than in the same time period last year. Fifty-five evictions happened between March and August this year, compared to 142 during the same months last year, according to the Coloradoan. Additionally, 112 writs of restitution were carried out this year, compared to 235 last year, the article said.

If you’re a student facing a demand for compliance or possession, or any threat of eviction, the Student Legal Center can be reached at sls.colostate.eduStudents concerned about eviction should consult with CSU Student Legal Services proactively before the situation comes to an eviction. 

To read the CDC moratorium order visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-eviction-declaration.html.

Sam Moccia can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @SamuelMoccia.