The Governor's New Executive Order, Eviction Settlement Agreements, and How to Become a ZOOM Eviction Expert
Posted by Stephen Marshall on
Governor’s Executive Order
As most of you know, for the first time in a long time, the Governor issued a new Executive Order yesterday with mandates. The Governor’s most recent mode of operation had been to issue recommendations, rather than mandates, but yesterday’s order was a mandate. You can read the entire order here.
Fortunately, there’s not much in the order that will affect the rental industry. Most property management offices have been deemed to be essential services, so I do not believe that the 33% office requirement applies to you. However, I do think you’ll need to reduce capacity at your fitness centers to 33% and require masks.
Rental Assistance Settlement Agreements
We’re starting to see a good number of applications approved and money being disbursed from the Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund. Disbursement of those funds requires you to sign off on a settlement agreement.
If you have an open eviction case, you and your tenant will need to sign a Forcible Detainer Settlement Agreement, which may be accessed here. If you or the tenant are represented by an attorney, the attorney will also need to sign the agreement. Once everyone has signed, the agreement will need to be filed with the court.
If you’d like me to fill out the agreement for you, please send me an e-mail (email@example.com) with the following information:
- tenant names
- case number, if you have it
- how much is being paid for past rent
- how much is being paid for future rent, if any
- any other terms, such as how long the tenant will be allowed to stay in the property
CARES Act Properties
I’ve had a few people reach out to me about whether CARES Act properties may now give seven-day notices instead of 30-day notices. I’ve even heard of attorneys who are attempting to file evictions on behalf of CARES Act properties by altering the Verification of Compliance form.
I’ve talked to a good number of people about this. From landlord attorneys to eviction judges to tenant advocates. Everyone comes to the same conclusion. I don’t like the answer, but here’s the clear answer: Kentucky Supreme Court Order 2020-56 requires all CARES Act properties to give a 30-day notice prior to filing an eviction. It also requires that they certify on the Verification of Compliance form that they’ve given the 30-day notice. And there’s no exception in the order for balances that have accrued after the expiration of the CARES Act.
Here’s what else I know. There is at least one tenant attorney who is soliciting cases against landlords who violate this order. So, unless you’re looking to have your eviction case postponed or dismissed and you want to risk a class-action lawsuit for violating the Kentucky Supreme Court’s order, just give the 30-day notice and take the issue off the table. You can read the Kentucky Supreme Court's Order here - the relevant parts begin in Section B(1)(a).
Finally, most courts are going to remote eviction hearings. That means we all have to become experts at ZOOM. Fortunately, a number of courts, including those in Lexington, have established permanent ZOOM links for their eviction dockets. I’ve created a list of recurring ZOOM links for different counties on the front page of my website at the bottom, listed alphabetically by county.
Here are a few hints for using ZOOM effectively during evictions:
- Keep your volume muted until your case is called. Otherwise, the judge and everyone else can hear your phone ring, your e-mail beep, and your conversation with your coworkers.
- Make sure your username on your ZOOM account has your real name or your property name. Otherwise, the judge is left trying to figure out who “LG Stylo Pro 5” is.
- Turn your camera on if possible. Judges prefer to see you raise your hand when being sworn in.
- If possible, have electronic versions of the tenant’s lease, any notices, and payment ledger pulled up or accessible on your computer screen. This will allow you to use the “Share Screen” feature to show those documents to the court if needed.
- Silence your calls if possible once your session starts. The judge this morning got to listen to my office phone ring several times this morning. Oops – rookie mistake.
One last tip: it may be helpful to put a sentence in your notice that instructs the tenant the ZOOM link for the court hearing or gives them the phone number to call to obtain the ZOOM link. Adding that to your notice may save you from having your case continued for a week or two.
Free Webinar on Dealing with Tenants with Mental Health Issues
The Lexington Fair Housing Council is offering a free webinar on Tuesday, November 24, on responding to residents who have mental health issues. You can register for the free webinar here.
That’s plenty for today. I’m going to be in the woods hunting on Friday, but I’ll be back in the office on Monday, so be sure to reach out to me at (859) 685-0035 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or need help with anything.
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- Tags: CARES Act, Covid-19, evictions, Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund, Kentucky Supreme Court, notices, Verification of Compliance form, ZOOM