North Dakota’s highest judicial body has amended an emergency order that effectively put a freeze on eviction-related court proceedings, nearly a month after the order was enacted.
In a news release published Friday, the North Dakota Supreme Court announced that “the provision suspending eviction hearings except for good cause” has been removed from Administrative Order 27.
According to the release, the order “was originally issued on March 26, 2020 when most of the courthouses in the state began to restrict access to their buildings and court staff were transitioning to work from home” — but the court system is now prepared to handle new filings without typical levels of courthouse staffing.
The Supreme Court noted that the deadline to hold an eviction hearing remains extended to 45 days instead of the typical 15-day deadline.
In a news release after the order was amended, North Dakota’s Democratic-NPL Party repeated their call for Governor Doug Burgum to issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures because of the coronavirus crisis.
At his daily press briefing on North Dakota’s COVID-19 response, Governor Burgum said he does not support the idea of such a moratorium. “The people that own property also have rights, and they have to have access to due process themselves,” he said.
Burgum also said he considers state and federal economic relief programs to be sufficient support for North Dakotans. “We’ve got verified situations where people are making more on unemployment than they were making when they were working,” he said.
“I would expect to see that, with this amount of capital injected into the economy, that the number of evictions and the number of people that can’t pay their rent is quite low,” Burgum continued.
Democratic Representative Mary Schneider of Fargo called the Supreme Court’s move “an outrageous betrayal.”
“Thousands have been without a paycheck for a month and are still waiting for the unemployment payments promised to them. Their savings are being decimated, if they have any at all, and they’re afraid of what’s going to happen next. They’re not asking for a handout, only the security that the moratorium would provide,” Schneider said.
“I would encourage anybody who’s received an eviction notice — the first thing you might do is call the person that owns your property and talk to them versus calling a lawyer, because there are many possible ways to work through this,” Burgum said.