EL PASO COUNTY — One of the priority topics for the special session announced by Colorado Governor Jared Polis is additional aid for people struggling to pay rent. At the same time people need to know the rent moratorium is not a complete pass for all rental situations.
In the wake of the State at Home order during the early months of pandemic, paying rent was suddenly a problem for people who lost jobs and income. Since then, government aid dollars have been made available through multiple agencies.
"There is a lot of resources out there and I believe this special session with the Governor may find even more funds," said Southern Colorado Apartment Association, Executive Director, Laura Nelson. One of the simpler ways for direction on finding rent assistance is a call to the Southern Colorado 2-1-1 reference service.
Renters getting help applied for it. There are others protected by the moratorium, but for some reason avoiding their landlords. "We do have a handful, seems like at each property that literally will not answer the door, will not answer the phone, will not fill out the paperwork," said Nelson.
When the moratorium ends it can mean the difference between owing little to nothing verses six months or more. "There's no reason to run from this, to hide from this, because the debt will not go away. None of these moratoriums erase the debt.”
Know the moratorium is also not completely stopping evictions. "We would put a notice on an individual’s door.” Jackie Kirby explains that deputies are assigned by the courts to execute eviction orders. The ones happening now are not related to COVID-19 and past due rent. It is more likely people ignoring the terms of their lease. Illegal activity can be things like pets when not allowed or actions causing damage. “You can be evicted for substantial violations," said Nelson.
Numbers show that evictions in 2020 are actually way down because of the COVID-19 rent moratorium. "We've got about 47 that are pending, and from March 2nd through yesterday we have done about 292 evictions,” said Kirby, “Where for the same time frame in 2019 we did about 900."