Pisgah Legal Services urges people in WNC to seek legal help, know their rights
Just as it was about to expire at the end of March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an extension of the national ban that temporarily halts evictions for millions of renters.
The new order extends the moratorium to June 30, 2021. An estimated 435,000 North Carolinians are currently behind on their rent.
The order requires that renters meet certain criteria, including:
- Have an income of $198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or up to $99,000 for individuals.
- Show they have sought government assistance to pay their rent.
- Declare they are unable to pay rent because of COVID-19.
- Affirm they are likely to become homeless or will be forced to stay with friends or family if they are evicted.
- Show they have lost income.
Renters must fill out and submit a copy of the CDC declaration form – available at local courthouses or click HERE.
Renters should submit the form in English to their landlords or to their local court. Pisgah Legal advises keeping another dated copy as well.
“This is very good news for many folks across the country and those right here in our mountain region,” said Pisgah Legal Services Executive Director Jim Barrett. “Federal relief is on its way, and we hope this extension will allow for the time that is needed to get these funds to those who are worried about losing their homes.”
He continued, “In the meantime, we encourage people to fill out the CDC form and work with their landlords to pay what they can because the moratorium does not mean that rent is forgiven. And if they have questions or need additional help to contact Pisgah Legal Services.”
In addition to the moratorium, renters should also know these basic rights:
- A tenant cannot be made to move from a rental home without a court order. Tenants have a right to appear in court and defend themselves. Any attempt made to remove a tenant by anyone or any means except the Sheriff’s Department is illegal.
- In most cases, landlords cannot legally terminate a tenant’s electricity, water, or heat source as a method of forcing them to leave a rental unit.
- Do not move out without talking to an attorney. Tenants may have rights and defenses that they do not know about. There may be financial resources available tenants are unaware of. Even if a tenant is behind in rent, do not move out without finding out your options. Eviction actions can happen quickly without an attorney, and they can be slowed down to prevent homelessness with the aid of an attorney.
Pisgah Legal Services, a nonprofit that provides free civil legal aid in Western North Carolina, continues to assist people with low incomes. Staff and volunteer attorneys are helping clients and taking new applications for assistance with critical needs that include:
- evictions and foreclosures
- domestic violence
- coping with debts and avoiding scams
- unemployment and other government benefits
- and health care.
If you or someone you know needs help, call Pisgah Legal’s main phone lines at 828-253-0406, or 800-489-6144. Online applications are also being accepted: www.pisgahlegal.org/free-legal-assistance. Pisgah Legal staff and volunteer attorneys continue to work remotely and will be in touch via phone and/or email.
About Pisgah Legal Services
Since 1978, nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services has provided free civil legal aid to help people with low incomes seek justice and meet their basic needs. Pisgah Legal provides a broad array of legal services in 11 WNC counties and offers health and immigration law services in 18 counties. Last year PLS served more than 20,000 people across the mountain region.
PLS has offices in Asheville, Burnsville, Brevard, Hendersonville, Highlands/Cashiers, Marshall, Newland, and Rutherfordton. In addition to the attorneys on staff, Pisgah Legal relies heavily on the pro bono legal services of approximately 300 volunteer attorneys.
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Checks may be mailed to P.O. Box 2276, Asheville, N.C. 28802