In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, James Village apartment tenants received a letter Wednesday threatening eviction if they can’t pay their rent. However, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, the state supreme court and even the federal CARES Act have halted evictions and foreclosures during the state of emergency.
Hopkinsville native Alecia Radford was appalled when her friend who lives in James Village sent her the letter she received Wednesday from the property manager reminding her that “we understand that our state is taking extra precautions to reduce the spread of coronavirus however, rent is due APRIL 1ST,” it stated in all caps.
“This will ensure we don’t have to take further action toward eviction,” the letter continues. “If your rent isn’t paid by April 4th we will proceed with the eviction procedures.”
Radford, who lives in Louisville but has immediate family who has lived in James Village, said rent is usually due on the fifth; however, it was scratched out to indicate rent was due a day earlier.
“This blew my mind that they are receiving eviction threats at a time like this,” Radford said. “It makes me upset that people have lost their income, and when most places are willing to work with you, this place gives you three days after the due date before they are threatening to start the eviction process.”
The tenant did not want to speak on the record, but spoke to Radford about the ordeal.
“I just kind of feel like this is a kick-you-when-you’re-down type situation,” she said. “How do you say you understand the economy is rough, but you still need to give us rent on the first, no later than three days after the first or you will be put out?”
The local property manager — who spoke off the record out of fear of losing her job with Moriah Management, which is based out of Louisiana — said, “That is all I got from corporate to put on doors.”
The property manager went on to say, “I know they’re saying all over the news that there is government aid, but I don’t know what they are. ... In three or four months, when everything is lifted it’s going to be a culture shock for anyone who hasn’t paid. I don’t want that to happen to my residents.”
An employee at the company’s headquarters in Louisiana deferred questions to the owners who didn’t respond by press time Wednesday.
All evictions in Kentucky are halted for the next 30 days, due to an executive order from the governor.
However, that protection goes further for federally backed, multifamily properties, such as public housing and section 8, which is part of James Village.
According to section 4022-4024 of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, signed into law March 27, a moratorium is in place to stop any evictions from any federally backed multifamily properties for the next 120 days.
There is also protection for landlords of properties that are backed by federal housing loans or receive section 8 funds.
Mortgage loan payments on any HUD properties can be delayed for an initial 30 days with two 30-day extensions if the borrower attests that they are experiencing a financial hardship.
Katina Miller, director of advocacy with Kentucky Legal Aid, said the Kentucky Supreme Court further clarified Thursday that no circuit court clerk can even take an eviction filing until 30 days after the state of emergency ends.
“This order is in affect through May 1, so 30 days after that is May 30, so they can’t even file any until then,” she said. “A lot of concern is both being paid by our judicial, executive and even our legislature to make sure people are able to shelter safely at home right now.”
Gov. Andy Beshear also signed an executive order for Kentuckians to remain “Healthy at Home” to stop the spread of COVID-19. Part of that involves have a secure place to call home without fear of being put out.
Hopkinsville Human Rights Commission Executive Director Idalia Luna said although tenants are protected for now, her concern is for tenants after the state of emergency is lifted.
There is nothing laid out about what that is going to look like six months down the road, she said.
Miller had the same concern.
“Come June, I’m afraid there is going to be a flood of eviction filings,” she said. “The chickens will come home to roost.”
Kentucky Legal Aid provides civil legal services to low-income families, elderly, disabled, and other vulnerable individuals.
If anyone receives a notice of eviction during this time, they can call Kentucky Legal Aid at 270-782-5740.