Wednesday (10/28) afternoon, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order #171 (“Assisting North Carolinians At Risk of Eviction”) to clarify the application of the CDC eviction moratorium across the state in an effort to keep people stably housed during the coronavirus pandemic. The order makes clear residential renters are able utilize the CDC Declaration form to prevent being evicted, and in fact, requires landlords to provide tenants with a blank copy of the form. The order does not prevent the landlord from beginning the eviction process. They will, however, be required to also submit a signed affidavit confirming that the form was provided to the tenant.
Tenants seeking protection from the CDC order must still meet the five eligibility criteria of the CDC order. In cases that have already begun, the tenant is still able to provide the signed declaration form to the landlord and the landlord has five days to submit it to the court.
The Governor’s order does not cancel the tenant’s obligation to pay and does not prevent a landlord from evicting for reasons other than nonpayment. The executive order allows landlords who have received a signed declaration form to still dispute the matter by submitting a written response to the court explaining why the eviction should proceed.
Since it was announced the CDC order has been unevenly applied from court to court, halting eviction for some and doing nothing for others. This move by Governor Cooper helps to ensure more consistent application of the CDC order across the state and provides a process framework for tenants, landlords, and court officials to work from. The CDC order remains vague on numerous points and the Department of Justice guidance only added to the confusion.
Despite the DOJ guidelines somewhat narrowing the scope of the CDC order, it is important to note that the CDC order was intended as a minimum floor for eviction protections and states and localities are permitted to implement more stringent requirements.
EO #171 goes into effect on Friday, October 30th at 5 PM and will be in place until December 31st.