CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Another impact from COVID-19 being felt in the Coastal Bend is eviction hearings taking place in our courts.
Here's what people facing eviction need to know.
As of July 25, Justice of the Peace judges have begun hearing eviction cases involving tenants protected by the CARES Act. Locally, there is a backlog of hundreds of cases.
The CARES Act protects tenants living in Section 8 public housing, or any other housing with federal government assistance.
The Texas Supreme Court has allowed courts to hold all other eviction hearings since June 2.
Judge Lucy Rubio says she's hearing an average of 10 eviction cases a day, virtually.
And the conversation usually goes something like this:
"You knew you had to pay rent, what happened?,” said Rubio, who represents Precinct 1, Place 3. “You tell me I lost my job. I would tell you I'm so sorry. I'm very sympathetic with what's going on in our country. It's a very sad situation, the pandemic. Unfortunately, the law is very specific. You have to pay your rent.”
Rick Gomez is a local landlord and property manager.
He says when it comes to unpaid rent, property owners have told him “let it slide” as long as the tenant is communicating with them, and making an effort to pay something.
Gomez explains the trickle-down effect when the rent isn't paid.
The owner is still responsible for paying the mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities.
And it goes further than that.
“If we're charging $900 a month on lease, then we're costing $30 a day for every vacancy,” Gomez said. “So if they're vacant for say six days, you're talking $180. That's out of the landlord's pocket.
“They also have to clean it. They probably have to re-key it. They probably have to do various other repairs. Any down time on a vacancy is a loss.”
If a judge rules for eviction, you have five days to appeal.
Your other option is to work out a payment plan with your landlord.
Steve Bernal is a rental property manager.
He warns that an eviction now not only makes it difficult to get approved for a new place to rent, but the eviction can stay on your record for 10 years, or until you get it resolved.
If you're facing eviction from a property protected by the CARES Act, you have until Aug. 26 to settle it.
If you are struggling to pay your rent or utilities, there are resources available.
Contact the United Way of the Coastal Bend at 211 or online here.
You can also contact Daniel Ramirez at the Mother Teresa Shelter, Inc. at 361-218-7596 for housing assistance through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Homeless Housing and Services Program.