Even though a national moratorium exists to protect families from evictions if the pandemic has impacted them, News4 Investigates still found people being evicted and ordered to leave their homes.
Our investigation found no one is enforcing the CDC moratorium, allowing renters to avoid eviction until December 31st.
In her Bellevue apartment, Callie Clark, her husband, and their three children received a letter from their apartment complex, telling them that they have no intention to pay their rent and were given the option to leave that day and turn in their keys.
Clark and her family should be the perfect fit for protection under the moratorium. After the unexpected death of her family this year, she lost her childcare while she was coming off maternity leave.
Now unable to return to work, her husband’s paycheck doesn’t cover the bills.
“We’re going to be the next homeless family,” Clark said.
The CDC’s rule prohibiting evictions includes protection for people who meet certain criteria, including those facing homelessness or trying to work with government agencies to pay their rent.
Clark said she did explain her circumstances to her landlord.
“Let them know my situation. Tried to work out payment plans with them,” Clark said.
What Clark didn’t do: sign the CDC’s document that states her circumstances.
News4 Investigates found that even if a renter discusses their circumstances, they must present the signed declaration to get the protection.
Kerry Dietz, a housing attorney with Legal Aid, said landlords are not required to tell renters about the CDC moratorium.
“I’ve not been made aware of any agency or entity that is enforcing the CDC order – I think there’s a bit of an enforcement gap,” Dietz said.
News4 Investigates found researchers at the Eviction Lab at Princeton University gave Tennessee the lowest score possible – zero out of five stars – for how it’s handling evictions during the pandemic.
“It feels lonely. It feels like you’re alone – there’s no one out there to help you,” Clark said.
Once News4 Investigates told Clark about the signed document, she filled it out and presented it to her landlord.
We called her landlord at her apartment complex, inquiring why they were evicting people who seemed to qualify for the moratorium, but our calls were not returned.
News4 Investigates also found for other renters. The eviction is already underway,, especially in two zip codes.
Ahmad Harden could only watch as Davidson County sheriff’s deputies carried out all of his belongings to the street.
Harden said after the pandemic hit, he got sick and got behind in his rent.
“Prepare your families. This is the world that we live in now,” Harden said.
News4 Investigates analyzed evictions across the city and found Harden’s south Nashville zip code, 37013, had the most tenants notified of evictions.
Its neighboring zip code – 37211 – had the second-highest number of evictions.
“Of course, the renters are suffering. But the landlords are suffering too.
Landlords are suffering the facing the same economic challenges that tenants are,” Dietz said.
The zip codes with the most evictions include 37013,
37211, 37115, 37209, and 37208.