COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A local landlord attorney and an El Paso County court magistrate confirmed Friday that the county will soon return to holding eviction hearings that have been suspended during most of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, attorneys for landlords and property managers began filing requests for hearings and the first is scheduled for Jan. 26 -- five days before a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent mandated by the Centers for Disease Control, expires.
However, that date will be moot if Congress passes a proposed stimulus package from President-elect Joe Biden, extending the moratorium through the end of September.
"I think he will extend it fairly soon after his inauguration next week," said Magistrate Andrea Paprzycki, who oversees eviction hearings in the 4th Judicial District. "But even if that happens, we can still have eviction hearings for other reasons -- such as if a lease has expired, or if someone has violated their lease. I think we're going to see a lot of those."
The hearings will be held virtually because the courthouse remains closed for the pandemic.
Attorney Ken Davidson said that most evictions normally are for non-payment of rent, and that many landlords have gone nearly a year without receiving a considerable number of rent payments.
"I've done maybe 15 or 20 (evictions) during the pandemic but maybe not even that many," he said. "A normal number is probably about 50 to 60 a month. And 90% of those are usually for failure to pay rent. That's a lot of money that landlords aren't getting."
Davidson said that while most landlords cooperate with tenants on rent payments, and while most tenants make an honest effort to pay, some tenants don't -- and evicting them is difficult in the current climate.
"The situation really affects people who rent out houses or duplexes, smaller units," he said. "Owners of larger complexes aren't affected that much because they're better able to bear losses. But many of the smaller landlords are barely hanging on. People think that all landlords have plenty of money, but that's not the case. We'll just have to see if the moratorium is extended, and deal with it at that point. I think it's a bad thing, if it happens."
Davidson also raised questions about state and federal money that was supposed to be allocated to help tenants pay their rent.
"I don't know how effective that was," he said. "The feedback I was receiving from my clients is that they weren't getting any money."