Published August 9, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
The Tennessee court system announced they will not be following the Centers for Disease Control’s new eviction moratorium after it was ruled unconstitutional.
The CDC extended the order through October of 2021, but it will only apply in counties with a substantial or high level of COVID cases. This includes the new Delta variant.
The moratorium will not apply in states where a federal court order does not allow it. These include Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.
According to Judge Rachel Bell from Nashville, the dockets for evictions have already filled up.
“Just this past Tuesday, we had court in this courtroom, we had to move out of here and go downstairs to courtroom 1A because the dockets were so full,” Bell told News Channel 5. “We had I think 279 cases on that day.”
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On August 5, there were over 70 evictions on the docket in Chattanooga. Judge Gary Starnes heard some cases that were over a year old.
Chattanooga resident Nathina Chhetri’s landlord was asking her for over $5,000. Chhetri said that she had offered $3,000.
Starnes eventually ruled that she did not owe her landlord anything, but would have to be moved out within ten days.
“I’ve always tried to take care of my responsibilities,” Chhetri said. “My bills and everything I need to do is to make sure that my children and I are taken care of. I offered to make sure the past due was taken care of and that it was paid and I was not just sitting in the home freeloading on him and just living and having free rent. That was not the case.”
Chattanooga City Attorney, Emily O’Donnell, told Channel 5 that other courts across the state may be operating differently.
“They might be waiting for an appeal or another decision. I really don’t know. I have only been in this courtroom today. So, I think that there are still a lot of things that are still unknown at this point,” O’Donnell said.
Starnes suggested that families facing eviction try to find employment. He added that financial assistance for Tennesseans is beginning to run out.
He said, “I feel bad for all of these folks, the tenants and the landlords. It’s one of those situations where nobody put you in the situation, for whatever reason, wherever it came from, whatever, they are just in a bad situation and unfortunately, when it ends, which it has for Tennessee, you have to do something.”
Bell founded L.E.G.A.C.Y Housing Resource Diversionary Court, which is a program available to help both tenants and landlords get through the pandemic. It offers limited options to renters facing Covid-19 related challenges.
“It is important that the landlord is compensated,” Bell said. “And it is important that the tenant has a roof over their head.”
She said landlords who work to keep tenants housed may have more options to pursue.
Bell said, “I always say, ‘what is it God asks of us?’ He asked us to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God and that is working with people. If you can’t do that, we can’t force you to do it.”
About the Author:
Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative
Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com