© 2024 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Evictions have returned to pre-pandemic levels. But have tenants learned how to protect themselves?

Kelly Kenoyer
/
WHQR

Eviction filings have returned to pre-pandemic levels in North Carolina and in New Hanover County. But there are signs that tenants learned more about their rights during the eviction moratorium.

According to data available from the North Carolina Judicial branch, landlords have filed nearly as many evictions in the last fiscal year as they did before the pandemic, in 2018 and 2019. There hasn’t been a post-covid bump, the way some advocates feared.

But one statistic has gone up- appeals. New Hanover County saw double the number of eviction appeals in the past fiscal year as it did in the fiscal year before the pandemic. Statewide the numbers are even more dramatic, a jump from 1.9% to 5.3%.

Eviction appeals have risen to their highest level since the state began publicly tracking court filings in the most recent fiscal year, 2022/2023. But appeals still only account for a small fraction of overall eviction filings, which numbered 164,823 in the state from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.
Eviction appeals have risen to their highest level since the state began publicly tracking court filings in the most recent fiscal year, 2022/2023. But appeals still only account for a small fraction of overall eviction filings, which numbered 164,823 in the state from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

NC Legal Aid attorney Bradley Setzer says those numbers might be an indication of the hot housing market, because landlords are evicting tenants in order to sell a property.

“So you may be seeing more evictions of people who have the wherewithal and the financial means to file an appeal, pay their rent bond, maybe hire an attorney," he said.

That would mean that a tenant, by appealing, gets more wiggle room in their move-out date. And if they’re out before their court date, they may not even get an eviction on their record.

But the appeals may also indicate that tenants learned more about their rights during the eviction moratorium.

“What we're seeing now is that those tools can be used in limited function, and not have a terrible effect after the fact if everything goes back to the way it was," he said. "That's kind of what you would want, I'd expect from the tools that were used on the eviction moratorium.”

Setzer says any tenants facing eviction can seek pro bono legal help at nclegalaid.org.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.