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Housing attorney: Evictions in KC metro will happen in waves

Posted at 10:08 PM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 23:20:44-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hundreds of thousands of people, including more than 40% of Missouri renters, could lose their homes this summer in what is being called an eviction crisis.

The national hold on evictions ended last week and extra unemployment benefits end this week, leaving people at risk for losing their home.

Stout, a valuation advisory company, studied numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and expects 205,000 eviction filings in Missouri in the next four months.

In Kansas, 33% of renters could face eviction, with 81,000 filings in the next four months.

As tenants around the country brace for what's described as a tsunami of evictions, housing advocates in the Kansas City metro said it'll come in waves.

"This has just had a devastating effect on low and very low income population," Jane Worley, a housing attorney with Legal Aid of Western Missouri, said.

New numbers from Jackson County Court show the amount of "Rent & Possession" cases filed are creeping up.

They're nowhere near the days of Pre-COVID, but as of Monday, they're on pace to be higher than those last month.

The table below shows the number of cases filed with the 16th Circuit Court in Jackson County with these codes in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same months in 2020.

Jan. 2019Feb. 2019Mar. 2019Apr. 2019May 2019Jun. 2019Jan. 2020Feb. 2020Mar. 2020Apr. 2020May 2020Jun.2020July 1-27, 2020
Rent & Possession623515447522624572695543392116138190185
Landlord Complaint137989311012412911810161245610489
Unlawful Detainer71635493868279566841406440

1. Rent and Possession - Tenant has not paid rent.
2 . Landlord Complaint - Generally this code is for possession only, but the landlord could file instead under rent and possession.
3. Unlawful Detainer - This code is used when the landlord wants to evict someone who does not have a lease agreement. Examples could include squatters, someone who refuses to leave a home after it sells, or if someone moves in with a renter but is not on the lease and then refuses to leave.

"So we're seeing people who normally are able to pay their rent and have not been in this kind of situation before," Worley said.

With the federal eviction moratorium covering more than 12 million rentals ending last week – and Missouri and Kansas among 29 states that have no additional protections – Worley said a landlord has 30 days to work out a payment plan with a tenant before taking legal action.

"We always have tenants at some point that may be running into problems paying their rent, and we always work with them on a one on one basis, regardless of any kind of external time frames," Stacey Johnson-Cosby, president of the KC Regional Housing Alliance told 41 Action News on Tuesday.

Beside directing renters to resources like United Way, the KC Regional Housing Alliance is hosting virtual job fair on Aug. 6.

"It's in our best interest to help our tenants stay in the property and to stay stabilized with their families," Johnson-Cosby said. "So we always reach out to our tenants if there's a problem and try to work something out."