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Linn County Courthouse sees nine eviction hearings first day after moratorium

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 10:35 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Eviction hearings took place statewide on Monday after an eight-month-long eviction moratorium expired.

In Linn County, there were 15 hearings scheduled, and nine tenants showed up. Of those nine tenants, eight sought help from Iowa Legal Aid at the help desk inside the county courthouse. None of them were evicted.

Attorneys from Iowa Legal Aid are set up across the state to, at the very least, give advice to people facing evictions. In most cases, those attorneys are able to represent the tenant at their upcoming eviction hearing.

“We talk to tenants about their legal issue as well as trying to get financial assistance into the hands of landlords to keep tenants housed,” Ericka Petersen, with Iowa Legal Aid, said.

Petersen said that these help desks are there to not only assist tenants but help landlords avoid the impacts as well.

“Most landlords just want to get paid, which is understandable after this many months,” Petersen said. “So in a lot of cases, we can connect them with the resources they need and work something out so the tenant can stay housed and landlord can get paid.”

The most common cases they’ve seen are with tenants who lost their job because of the pandemic but were able to get back on their feet. The problem now is the overdue bills they see piling up.

“The bills that came in during that time that they were unemployed, or they were sick, having to catch up with those. I’m seeing that most often,” Petersen said.

Sam Jones, an attorney with Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, said even landlords often prefer to not go through with an eviction.

“The better option, often, is to work with the tenant to come up with a payment plan, to accept a lesser amount in a given rental period,” Jones said. “You’re ultimately going to recognize a higher profit margin over the long run.”

Jones said a landlord’s goal should be to keep the tenant in their unit because an empty property means no income.

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