Protections in place that prevent people from being evicted from their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic are set to expire at the end of the month, but a local group wants to make sure tenants know all their options.
Katie Dilks, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation, said thanks to the CDC eviction moratorium, hundreds of people here in Tulsa County have been able to stay in their homes. But as the end of the year approaches, they worry about what is next.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium was put into place in September, putting a pause on evictions.
"We know over the past several months, hundreds of cases have been filed, and continued effectively paused, thanks to the eviction moratorium," Dilks said.
Dilks said they are now looking at what's next.
"What we're looking at potentially is a three-week free for all at the beginning of January, to be followed by executive action from the Presidential administration," she said.
Dilks said the moratorium does not cancel rent, tenants still owe all rent they've been unable to pay. She said landlords typically work with their tenants and it's best to ask for a payment plan if needed.
She said the Early Settlement Mediation Program provided by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma is a great tool.
"That just helps people walk through a conflict and figure out a solution that works for both sides," she said.
Attorney Nathan Milner represents landlords and property management groups. He said small rental groups have been impacted the most by the moratorium.
"What we call mom and pop shops were a lot more negatively affected, just because most of them have mortgages to pay on those properties," he said.
Milner said if you are struggling with rent payments, one of the best things you can do is communicate with your landlord.
"That's oftentimes what they want to do, just want to know what's going on and why it hasn't been paid and oftentimes arrangements can be made," he said.
Dilks said if you used the moratorium, a new court date will be set in January, and the court will contact you by mail.
She said the best thing you can do is know the resources available to you. Dilks said you can also contact 211 to see all resources available to you and to connect with legal aide.