A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

To evict or not evict, that is the question — and the answer is, well, confusing

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

New guidance from the Kentucky Supreme Court on staffing, access to jury trials and evictions has caused some widespread confusion, especially when it comes to the eviction section.

The Administrative Order, which takes effect on Saturday, allows all evictions for non-payment of rent to resume on that date, except for those subject to the federal CARES Act.

Leigh Anne Hyatt with the Administrative Office of the Court, or AOC, acknowledged that the process can be confusing, since both the executive and judicial branches have separate authority and functions regarding evictions.

The Supreme Court

“The Judicial Branch is responsible for entering the filing of an eviction case,” she said. “The Executive Branch is responsible, through law enforcement, for serving an eviction notice once an eviction action has been filed with the courts. The court then hears the case after notice has been properly served. If an eviction judgment is entered, then law enforcement enforces that order if the tenant does not vacate the premises.”

According to the CARES act, and guidance from the high court, “Evictions from ‘federally backed multi-family properties’ solely for nonpayment of rent or fees, penalties, or other charges related to nonpayment of rent, are prohibited for the duration of the period during which the borrower has received forbearance of its mortgage loan payments, and notice to vacate shall not be issued until after the expiration of the forbearance.”

Those “covered dwellings” require 30 days’ notice to vacate before filing an action for eviction. The lessor of a “covered dwelling” shall not require the tenant to vacate until 30 days after the date on which the lessor provides the tenant with notice to vacate.

In addition, fees, penalties, or other charges are prohibited. The lessor of a “covered dwelling” shall not charge a tenant any fees, penalties, or other charges that accrued during the period between March 27, 2020, and July 25, 2020, when those fees, penalties, or other charges are related to nonpayment of rent.

The Supreme Court also states that as of Aug. 1, “All eviction filings must be accompanied by form AOC-1027 (Verification of Compliance with CARES Act), verifying that the eviction is not prohibited under the CARES Act. The AOC-1027 shall be filed with every eviction filing, and the circuit court clerk shall reject any such filing unless it is accompanied by the AOC-1027.”

That form should be available soon at kycourts.gov, on the Legal Forms page under the Resources tab.

Actions for eviction filed prior to March 27 are not subject to the CARES Act.

Further confusion stems from an executive order issued by Gov. Andy Beshear on March 25, which suspended the enforcement of evictions by law enforcement fr the duration of the State of Emergency he declared earlier that month.

That executive order was challenged at U.S. District Court in Covington by a group of landlords from Northern Kentucky.  Mediation on the suit was held on Thursday and Beshear said it did not appear there would be a resolution.

“If there is not a resolution, that case will move forward, and we will defend our order that we believe prevents people from carrying out evictions. Are there people out there gaming the system? I am sure that there are, but are there people out there that are suffering because of this virus or its economic impact, so we can’t allow them to be kicked out into the street?”

He says he believes without resolution the courts will allow eviction proceedings, which is the actual proceeding in court.

“Those aren’t going to occur, I don’t think, until October under their order, but I believe our order prevents enforcement, whether that’s the sheriff’s offices or others.”     

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