SANTA FE – A new court program will help New Mexicans deal with the possible loss of their homes during the pandemic and offer landlords an alternative to evicting tenants unable to pay their rent.
The Eviction Prevention and Diversion Program will be piloted in the Ninth Judicial District of Curry and Roosevelt Counties from February 1 and will expand statewide in March.
“Courts will provide trained eviction facilitators to help landlords and tenants resolve disputes over rent payments,” Chief Justice Michael Vigil said today announcing the program. “The goal is to negotiate a settlement acceptable to landlords and tenants, allowing people to stay in their homes while fairly compensating landlords through emergency rental assistance.”
Judge C. Shannon Bacon said, “This initiative to help financially vulnerable New Mexicans was developed in collaboration with input from courts, public agencies, local governments, landowners, housing advocates and communities. legal service providers ”.
In the program :
When tenants receive legal advice that an eviction application has been filed in court, they will also get information to help them access legal services, financial assistance for rent, and utilities as well. than rehousing for people who might lose their home or have already lost it.
· At the start of a hearing or trial in an eviction case, judges will notify the tenant and landlord of the eviction prevention and diversion program and the availability of federally funded funds. emergency rental assistance administered by the state.
o If the parties agree to participate in the program, the case will be put on hold for at least 60 days while negotiations are underway with a court appointed settlement facilitator. If necessary, a court can grant up to 30 additional days for negotiations. The court will dismiss the case if a settlement is found. The case will continue if there is no settlement and a judge can issue a deportation order, known as a writ of restitution. In the event of an eviction, tenants can access relocation assistance through the Eviction Prevention and Division Program.
At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the Supreme Court suspended evictions of tenants who provided a judge with sufficient evidence of their inability to pay their rent during the pandemic.
Under a Court order issued today, the suspension of evictions for non-payment of rent will be lifted in Curry and Roosevelt counties when the eviction prevention and diversion program begins there. Once the program goes into effect statewide, the moratorium on evictions will be lifted in all other counties.
If homeowners got a judgment during the period the evictions were suspended, they must go back to court and file a new form asking for a post-judgment eviction order to move the case forward.
“The eviction prevention and diversion program benefits landlords and tenants,” said Gene Vance, an Albuquerque attorney who is general counsel for the Apartment Association of New Mexico.. “It was gratifying and gratifying to see all stakeholders come together to stabilize housing in our communities during the pandemic and support those providing housing as well as those in need. “
The program will be available to tenants of apartments and other housing covered by rental agreements under the Uniform Landlord-Resident Relations Act and to New Mexicans who lease land for their mobile homes under ownership contracts covered by the Mobile Home Parks Act.
“People continue to struggle to meet their housing needs as the pandemic persists,” said Karen Meyers, consumer lawyer and former director of the City of Albuquerque Consumer Financial Protection Initiative. “New Mexicans at risk of losing their housing should apply for available rent assistance and participate in the Eviction Prevention and Diversion Program to try to come to an agreement with their landlord.”
Thomas Prettyman of New Mexico Legal Aid said, “The deportation process from New Mexico is very fast. It usually doesn’t give tenants time to apply for rent assistance. Formalizing a process in which trial courts give landlords and tenants the time and opportunity to ask for rent the assistance will offer the best chance of reconciling landlords while ensuring that low-income families who have fallen behind on rent do not become homeless. We look forward to the success of this program.