More tenants may face eviction, as COVID-19 has created greater financial woes

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ABILENE, Texas (KRBC/KTAB)-As COVID-19 has created financial woes, some tenants may face the possibility of being evicted from their homes, but some local officials said recently missed payments from certain tenants were an issue before the pandemic began.

Shawn Abernathy is a broker and owner of ‘Red Apple’ a realty company in Abilene. Her company manages roughly 200 properties in the area. As COVID-19 struck, Abernathy and her team extended the monthly payment dates for renters.

“We couldn’t just abandon rent, because a lot of our owners including me, the properties my husband and I own, we are making payments on those,” said Abernathy.

“A lot of people got laid off or hours simply cut, and you really have to be gracious,” Abernathy said.

Mike McAuliffe is the justice of the peace for precinct 1 in Taylor County. He said his office has received a higher volume of calls from landlords requesting information to serve their tenants eviction orders.

“Landlords are paying,” said McAuliffe. “Tenants aren’t, so they’re losing money. It’s a vicious cycle that nobody wanted to see happen, but it did.”

When COVID-19 broke out, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily halted all eviction hearings. McAuliffe said roughly 75 hearings were called prior to the pandemic, and those continue to stack up.

McAuliffe said eviction hearings will resume June 2nd, which will hopefully resolve cases including tenants facing eviction for missed payments prior to the pandemic or those who falsely believe they will not have to pay rent at all due to COVID-19.

“For what I have encountered over the past seven years, the majority of landlords don’t bring people in until they’re probably several months behind, because they understand their problems,” said McAuliffe.

While she did encounter only a handful of people who did not pay on time, some of Abernathy’s tenants simply packed up and left without notice. Many said they knew would they would never catch up on rent.

“It is better that someone, you know, be honest and upfront,” said Abernathy. “We have to treat everybody equally, and they didn’t give us a chance to give them grace.”

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