Leaders of Charlotte’s landlord, real estate and property manager trade groups are again asking to speed up scheduling eviction cases, saying Mecklenburg court leaders are ignoring statutory requirements to hear cases quickly.
In a letter sent Friday, The Greater Charlotte Apartment Association, Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition and local chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers said court officials aren’t complying with state law requiring courts to hold an eviction hearing within seven to 10 days of filing.
The groups implored court officials to put more cases on the docket and “stop the further extension of the moratorium through procedural delay,” in the letter, addressed to Chief District Court Judge Elizabeth Trosch, Clerk of Superior Court Elisa Chinn-Gary and Sheriff Garry McFadden.
Court officials are contending with a significant case backlog and first scheduled cases that were stayed during the moratorium. As of Sept. 20 there were nearly 2,600 new filings scheduled for hearings in October, according to court officials.
When the federal eviction moratorium was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, housing advocates warned of a wave of evictions across the country after millions of renters fell behind on payments.
But dockets in Mecklenburg’s small claims court, where evictions are handled along with other civil disputes involving less than $10,000, are still significantly lighter than pre-pandemic levels.
A review of small claims dockets over a six-day period in late September show just a handful scheduled in each courtroom, sometimes with as few one or two hearings scheduled per room. The most in any courtroom during that period was 15 cases, a departure from before when it was common to see several dozen cases per hour.
Many of the recent cases heard in court date back months, with some originating late last year.
Mecklenburg court officials previously told the Observer that the case backlog was caused by “a deadly pandemic” and the eviction moratorium, and that the oldest cases were being scheduled first. The court has capped hearings per day and limited the number of people allowed in a courtroom for social distancing.
Read more at The Charlotte Observer.