Fulton County courthouse. (Google Maps)

By Sean Keenan

On Wednesday, the Magistrate Court of Fulton County once again suspended, among other matters, residential eviction proceedings — a blessing for those whose incomes and housing have been threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After several extensions, Georgia’s public health state of emergency is now set to expire on June 12 — though it’s liable to be bumped again — and Harold Melton, the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia reinforced that order with one of his own, declaring a statewide judicial emergency until the same date, according to court documents.

The move again suspends landlord-tenant cases, such as evictions, as well as other “non-essential Magistrate matters,” including personal property foreclosures and wage garnishments.

These delays, however, haven’t stopped eviction and other case filings.

“As of the writing of this Guidance, the Court has 919 landlord-tenant cases filed between the dates of March 14, 2020 and March 27, 2020,” a Fulton County memo says. “Responsive pleadings in these cases are due seven days after the expiration of the Statewide Judicial Emergency.”

Local housing and legal experts worry that, once the emergency is lifted, a deluge of evictions could follow, sending many metro Atlantans scrambling to find places to live.

Some residents, though, are protected from evictions until at least July 25, thanks to the federal stimulus bill that prevents renters from being removed from properties with federally backed mortgages from loan companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

ProPublica recently published a database that allows residents to look up their addresses and see if they’re protected under those federal safeguards.

(Header image, via Google Maps: Fulton Count’s Lewis R. Slaton Courthouse)

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