Evictions amid the pandemic creates a push for legislation changes

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Wednesday will mark two months to date since the moratorium for stay-of-evictions expired. This expiration allowed evictions to resume throughout the state of South Carolina. Not surprisingly, after that expiration date, calls for pro-bono help and applications for it have increased dramatically.  

An expected increase, that’s how Nicole Paluzzi, a housing attorney for Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services, explained the volume of calls they’ve seen. Paluzzi said she went from receiving four to six applications for assistance per week prior to COVID-19, to approximately 9 applications a day after the moratorium lifted.

Paluzzi added that all of those cases were for eviction defense, and many were due to impacts from the virus. State Representative Marvin Pendarvis said as the virus continues on—it should be brought up in a conversation at a higher level within the state.  

What kind of funding are we going to be able to put and how can we ensure that landlords are being taken care of, just as much as the tenants? And so that really is part of a conversation that is a larger conversation that I’m hoping my colleagues will realize is necessary when we get back to session of 2021 which is housing. 

Marvin Pendarvis, State Representative District 113 

Another item to look at within the state level is revising the Landlord Tenant Act in South Carolina. The law, passed in 1986, has not been updated since.

State Representative Pendarvis added that in today’s climate, eviction should be a two-way conversation. This means that the tenant should be contacting their landlord in an effort to keep them informed.

The first thing you should do is reach out to your landlord and talk with them. Find out if they can work with you and let them know if you’ve been laid off as a result of the virus. I think that many, many tenants will find that many landlords are willing to work with them and navigate these situations.  

Marvin Pendarvis, State Representative District 113 

Asking for help or clarification when you first sense an issue coming on is a notion that Paluzzi agreed with.

So I really think that the most important thing that a tenant can do to advantage themselves in one of these cases is to—especially if they know they are in breach, is to reach out early and often. Don’t just you know call a service, one service agency one time and leave a voice mail…and reach out to several agencies at one time.

Nicole Paluzzi, Housing Attorney Charleston Pro Bono

Resources for rental assistance and pro-bono help in the Lowcountry:

For SC Thrive’s COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program, click here.

For Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services, click here.

For financial assistance with East Cooper Community Outreach, click here.

For Rental Assistance through the CARES ACT with Charleston Trident Urban League, click here.

For the Humanities Foundation, click here.

For South Carolina Legal Services, click here.

To stay connected with Cait Przetak, follow her on social media! For Facebook click here, for Twitter click here, and for Instagram click here.

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