As moratorium nears end, eviction fears rise

November 30, 2020

With about a month remaining before a federal moratorium expires on many evictions for nonpayment of rent, housing advocates fear a January spike in Arkansans losing their homes and adding to homeless and covid-19 case numbers.

Landlords and property managers filed 1,339 of the most common type of evictions in Arkansas courts, unlawful detainer lawsuits, from Sept. 1 to Nov. 20 this year, according to state court online data examined by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

That's up by 53 cases from the same period last year.

Not all courts file cases online, and evictions also may be filed under two other statutes, including Arkansas' criminal eviction law. The number also does not include evictions that happen outside the courts, which experts said they've seen go up since an initial decrease immediately after the federal government published its mandate.

Calls from renters facing eviction generally are "continuing to be very high, and I anticipate that when the CDC order expires in January, we'll probably see even more," said Kendall Lewellan, a managing attorney with the nonprofit Center for Arkansas Legal Services.

She added that over the past month, the center has gotten "well over double" the normal number of calls it receives about evictions at this time of year.

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