As eviction moratorium deadline looms, tenants urged to plan ahead

Renters struggling to make payments are advised to seek housing assistance.
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 5:34 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2021 at 6:55 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - On July 31, the federal eviction moratorium will expire. The Biden Administration has extended the federal ban on evictions four times since September because of the ongoing pandemic.

Area rental associations say this back-and-forth has made things difficult for both tenants and landlords alike.

“We foresee that as this moratorium ends, there will be a deluge of evictions filed in court,” said Erica Lopez, a housing attorney for Legal Action of Wisconsin.

Lopez works with the Tenant Resource Center to represent tenants in court or negotiate eviction cases.

She says when most tenants receive an eviction notice, they are unsure what to do next.

“When they face a really difficult situation, they avoid what’s happening,” said Lopez. “That’s the worst possible thing that people could do.”

She advises renters struggling to make monthly payments to find resources as soon as possible.

“It’s not a good idea to ignore those notices or wait until the last minute,” said Lopez. “We understand that a lot of people are facing some really tough choices and facing some really big challenges in finding housing.”

Lopez fears dozens of families could be without a place to call home because of the looming eviction moratorium deadline.

“There are lots of families that will probably be displaced,” she said. “We’re going to see people that have never been homeless before. We’re going to see middle-income families face homeless when they’ve never had to before.”

Nancy Jensen, the retired Executive Director of the Apartment Association of South-Central Wisconsin, is more optimistic about what’s to come in the next thirty days.

“I understand that most people have been able to negotiate something,” said Jensen. “We have a very large number of tenants paid up or nearly paid up already.”

Jensen says its all about communication and accommodation between tenants and landlords.

“Hearing that there’s such a large percent of residents able to make rent payments or get themselves very close to fully paid, I don’t expect the kind of floodgate that people have projected going into the courts,” Jensen added.

Organizations like Legal Action of Wisconsin and the Apartment Association of South Central Wisconsin say there is rental assistance available to those who need it.

“It’s really vital right now that if you qualify for rent assistance, apply for it,” said Jensen.

“People just need to continue to be good self-advocates instead of perhaps hunkering down and sort of avoiding what’s coming,” said Lopez. “People need to plan for what’s going to happen.”

For information about legal assistance through Legal Action of Wisconsin, click HERE or call 855-947-2529.

To speak with a housing counselor at the Tenant Resource Center, click here or call 608-257-0006

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