Lawyer says some Alabama landlords violate order, try to evict tenants

Lawyer says some Alabama landlords violate order, try to evict tenants
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - When Gov. Kay Ivey issued a stay-at-home order for Alabama, it came with a temporary halt on evictions. However, a Huntsville-based lawyer says she’s been getting calls from tenants saying their landlords are trying to kick them out.

Holly Ray is the managing attorney for Legal Services Alabama-Huntsville. She says her office has been inundated with tenants confused over their rights.

“We still have landlords who think the law doesn’t apply to them and they’re still telling people to get out immediately," said Ray.

She explained Ivey’s order. “Basically it says, ‘no one can be set out by court order until I release this proclamation.’ It doesn’t have an end date on it.”

Ray reports most landlords are creating situational solutions for each tenant. For example, she says some tenants are paying what they can or waiting until the stimulus check hits their account.

In more extreme cases, Ray says some landlords are “taking matters into their own hands.” With the courts closed and evictions halted, she says some landlords are cutting off utility services to the unit. Effectively, they are forcing the tenant out since there is no electricity or water.

This practice is illegal.

“When a landlord does it, I can sue for three times the monthly rent plus my attorney’s fee," stated Ray.

The passing of the CARES act by congress protects those living in a property that is federally backed. Ray says your landlord cannot tack on late fees or evict you.

On the state and federal levels, Ray fears there are loopholes. It does not spell out if certain lease violations are exempt.

Violating occupancy and pet rules or even having drugs on the property may supersede the state and federal orders. In this event, reach out to Legal Services directly.

These orders do not exempt a renter from paying rent. The provisions were put in place to ensure everyone has a hospital to “stay” in during the order. Any outstanding balances may be collected once the order is lifted.

Homeowners, are protected, too. Ray suggests reaching out to your lender to see what options are offered.

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