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How Magistrate Court is planning to handle evictions after CDC moratorium expires

With an eviction moratorium for late rent set to expire in two weeks, Hall County Chief Magistrate Judge Margaret Gregory said they will set aside at least six days in January to handle these stalled eviction proceedings.

Gregory said Thursday, Dec. 17, there were 65 dispossessories, or eviction proceedings, that have been held after the Sept. 4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order. The order is set to expire on Dec. 31.

“I haven’t heard of any new moratoriums or ‘stay’ actions coming down the line, but we only had two days’ notice with this latest one,” the judge said. “We’ll have to just see how that goes.”

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The people covered under this moratorium must fall under all of these conditions :

• The person must earn less than $99,000 in income as a single tax filer or $198,000 as a joint tax filer

• The person is unable to pay the full rent due to being laid off, loss of income, loss of work hours or "extraordinary" out-of-pocket medical expenses

• The person is making "best efforts" to make timely partial payments and to receive any government assistance for rent or housing

• The person would become homeless if evicted because no other housing options are available

A tenant seeking protection under the order must present a sworn statement, called a declaration, to the landlord or owner of the residential property, and all adults listed on the lease or rental agreement should complete the declaration.

Gregory said they would have five cases per docket, running one docket in the morning and another in the afternoon.

“A lot of these cases end up working out with an agreement,” Gregory said. “We give them an opportunity to talk to each other. Sometimes they just haven’t done that.”

Gregory said Magistrate Court has been able to catch up on the rest of its civil and eviction proceedings as of this month.

Wendy Glasbrenner, managing attorney at the Gainesville regional office of the Georgia Legal Services Program, said they have helped several hundred people across the Northeast Georgia region since the CDC order.

Glasbrenner said she interviewed one person this week who would be starting a well-paying job in February, and she said she would likely try to negotiate with the landlord to hold off the eviction until then.

“If a dispossessory has been filed, I think we have been going with the CDC declaration because it immediately stops everything,” Glasbrenner said. “Now at the end of the month, we’ll probably be trying to negotiate with some of these landlords to try to keep people in there and get things paid if the tenant is now in a better position.”

Michael Fisher, the housing/program planner for Ninth District Opportunity, did not respond to multiple calls for comment Thursday, Dec. 17.

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