COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Experts with the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center said renters can not be evicted until May 1 at the earliest, but they are still required to pay rent.
"You can't stay there for free,” Director Sue Berkowitz. “So, if you don’t pay rent, what that means is when the stay is lifted you could be evicted. We’re advising those who have the resources, yes, pay your rent and try to keep it up to date, especially with now the packages coming through and people being able to get unemployment insurance."
Berkowitz said under the order, landlords can not file or issue new eviction orders until May 1, at the earliest. Also, evictions scheduled between March 17, 2020, and March 31, 2020, must be re-scheduled for a date after April 30th. While tenants are still required to pay rent, Berkowitz and her colleagues ask landlords to be understanding.
"The resources are going to be coming to people and they are not stopping paying rent because they don’t want to. They’ve lost their jobs. They don't have money coming in. So, we ask that they have conversations with each other," Berkowitz explained.
The S.C. Supreme Court’s order stops most evictions, but there are some exceptions for cases that involve essential services or harm to people or property. The order also applies to foreclosures.
Westminster Company, which manages Prescott Manor Apartments, said the letter to residents was sent without corporate approval, but that they would still be seeking evictions as soon as the court allows them to do so. The company also said they will be sending another letter to residents later today.
Governor Henry McMaster has also asked utility companies to stop disconnections due to COVID-19. While your services will not be cut off right now, you could still be charged late fees by your provider.
The South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center has compiled a COVID-19 page with frequently asked questions regarding, rent, utilities and food banks that you can access by clicking this link.