Evictions paused through January, WF officials preparing for influx of filings

Evictions paused

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Evictions across the country have been paused for another month with Congress passing another coronavirus relief bill.

The eviction moratorium put in place, however, hasn’t stopped landlords from being able to still charge for rent and late fees. So while this pauses evictions for now, the Justice of the Peace office in Wichita County is preparing for a wave come February 1.

“It’s just putting it off, putting it off, putting it off to the inevitable of just a mass eviction process coming down the road,” Judge Robert Woodruff, the Wichita County Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Place 2, said.

For the past few months the papers have been piling up in Judge Woodruff’s court. all with renters requesting to delay the eviction process.

He said the delay of the process for another month is just piling on the bills for both property owners and tenants.

And that mass eviction process he mentioned earlier...

“I’m talking about large apartments, that when they are able to file evictions,” he said, “a lot of them are going to be cleaning house.”

Northwest Texas Legal Aid attorneys said they’ll be there to help those who could face eviction, but with only four attorneys to cover 12 counties...

“I know what the impending wave is going to be for our office, and I would hate to see someone, just because they called a day before their hearing, I would for someone not to get help,” Matthew Ryan Jones, a staff attorney for the organization, said.

If the state or federal governments do not offer any sort of renters or property owner’s assistance to accompany the moratorium, Judge Woodruff said his court will see a similar wave.

“I’m going to be doing evictions every day for a few months,” he said.

His advice: “whatever you can afford to pay, pay something, because at least that shows the court you’re making an effort.”

Matthew Ryan Jones: “that’s the least we can give at Northwest Legal Aid, is to give you advice so you know what you’re doing. It’s too important of something to just wait until the last hour.”

For more information regarding Northwest Texas Legal Aid’s services, click here.

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