Eviction moratorium leaves unanswered questions

Nashville housing attorneys and advocates were steeling for a “tidal wave” of evictions as moratoriums and other orders protecting tenants were set to expire last week.

But shortly after Davidson County courts began hearing eviction cases again, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new moratorium on residential evictions through the end of the year.

The order was even more widespread than previous protections under the CARES Act, which only applied to properties that relied on federal money, but local attorneys and courts still have some questions about the ramifications of the new order.

“It’s a broad eviction moratorium,” says Kerry Dietz, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. “Pretty much any residential lease is going to be covered. There’s a lot that is ambiguous. How it will be implemented is still a little up in the air.”

And that was evident in the courtroom, she says.

While representing two clients in court on Tuesday she got the impression that judges were “dragging their feet” because “they want to wait and get some more direction about what to do.” That doesn’t mean that tenants involved in eviction proceedings should rest easy just yet, Dietz warns.

The Tennessee Supreme Court could soon issue guidance to state courts about how to interpret the CDC order. For now, there’s nothing. A spokesperson for the Davidson County Circuit Court Clerk says “we currently don’t have any updated orders from the courts.”

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