Legal Lens: Can a person be evicted during a pandemic for any reason?

Legal Lens

The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – One of the casualties of the coronavirus pandemic finds many lessees unable to pay rent. Some are several months past due. Can a lessor evict them? That’s our question this week for Brown and Crouppen associate attorney Brandon Jackson.

“Right now, no! The CDC passed an eviction moratorium,” Jackson said. “This means any person can’t be evicted for non-payment on rent and this moratorium on eviction extends until the end of the month, March 31.”

What could happen after March 31?

“At that point, it goes county by county. So far, our state of Missouri does not have a statewide eviction moratorium,” Jackson said.

“For example in the City of St. Louis, Judge Michael Sheltzer has passed an eviction moratorium that extends until April 5. However, that only applies to evictions for non- payments of rent. So, a person can be evicted for other reasons.”

Such reasons could be health or safety code violations, or anything places another person or tenant in danger.

“The flavor in St. Louis County is different,” Jackson said. “The moratorium or eviction extends indefinitely and it applies to not only those who can’t pay rent but can’t be evicted for any reason.”

What should a tenant who may be at risk for eviction do in the meantime?

“To anyone, it’s important to keep open a line of communication with landlord,” Jackson said. “Some of them are suffering as well because they can’t handle carrying the cost of holding properties.”

Jackson says just because people haven’t been evicted doesn’t mean they don’t owe what they were supposed to pay. This could be an issue in the long-term.

“Once this moratorium is lifted there could be some people who haven’t paid up to a year’s worth of rent at one time,” he said.

And if people can’t pay that, they might be subject to eviction as soon as 30 days after the moratorium is lifted.

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