The eviction moratorium expired on Saturday, but lawyers and advocates for tenants are asking landlords to remain patient, especially since there are still federal aid dollars available to ensure they remain paid.
"In the upcoming weeks, the dockets of eviction court are full, almost every day for the next three weeks," said Nick DiNardo, managing attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. "And as more evictions are filed, we're going to see a growing number of families facing eviction."
One of those families belongs to Samiah Walker, who heads to court Wednesday.
"You've got all of these families being evicted," she said. "You know, and who's gonna rent to someone when eviction on their record."
Like Walker, many facing eviction lost their jobs during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic On Saturday as the moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent was lifted, families are now left vulnerable to losing their homes.
"It just shouldn't happen," said DiNardo. "It doesn't need to happen. We have all this rental assistance available we can get. We can get rental assistance into (landlords) hands and keep all those families safe in their homes."
DiNardo said millions of dollars worth of federal assistance is available through the Community Action Agency and the Hamilton County department of Jobs and Family Services, it just takes some time for funds to be dispersed.
"It takes a couple of weeks, but that they get made whole," said DiNardo. "That they're getting all their rent, late fees and court costs. Once they've done it a few times and landlords realize, it's a really good program."
Attorney John Mulvey works with landlords and tenants in eviction proceedings and says the process to have someone evicted can also take several weeks. He said for some, eviction is inevitable and when that happens, tenants need to protect themselves.
"So if the landlord is making a claim for unpaid rent. they can then try to pursue a judgment for that," said Mulvey. "If they make a claim that there's damage to the property beyond ordinary wear and tear and the tenants want to dispute it, that's why I think it's really important to take and document the condition of the property when you move out, so that you make it pretty clear what it was like when you moved in, what it was like when you moved out."
Mulvey suggested tenants keep pictures and video of the property and follow up on cases after a ruling in the instance a judgment is awarded against a tenant.
A representative with the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority said the organization is working to meet with partner organizations to discuss further ways to help families facing eviction.
In the meantime, the group has worked with other local groups to get families access to available funding.
"Over the last 12 months Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority has created partnerships with the Community Action Agency and Hamilton County Jobs and Family Services to give families in need of rental assistance access to the funding that is available to the community in efforts to alleviate evictions," read a statement sent to WCPO by CMHA on Monday.