By Sean Keenan
Fulton County officials have put a pin in eviction proceedings, keeping residents whose finances have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic safe at home. For now, that is.
According to a tweet by WABE investigative reporter Stephannie Stokes, the Magistrate Court of Fulton County, in a May 11 order, has suspended and granted relief from statutory time limits for landlord-tenant cases, among other hearings and services.
It’s unclear how long these cases, which are being delayed to reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus, will be put on hold.
“The Court will review this general extension on May 20, 2020 and issue further guidance,” the court’s order says.
Despite the safeguards that have been keeping eviction proceedings moving forward, magistrate courts in Fulton County and elsewhere in Georgia have still been receiving eviction filings, the first step in removing a renter from a home or business, court documents show.
Housing and legal experts from Georgia State University, Georgia Tech and Emory University, in a plea for an “emergency housing response to COVID-19,” said, “We urge the Supreme Court to more clearly cover all eviction activity (including eviction filings) for the duration of the state of emergency plus at least 60 days.”
Georgia’s coronavirus state of emergency is set to expire on May 22, according to Reuters.
The scholars worry that, once the hold on eviction proceedings in Fulton County is lifted, there could be a wave of displacement across the county, which would impact much of the metro Atlanta area.
(Header image, via David Pendered: A home in Jefferson Park, near Atlanta’s airport)