Chatham County Sheriff’s Office announces plan for eviction enforcement

Chatham County Sheriff’s Office announces plan for eviction enforcement

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Chatham County sheriff said he’ll enforce evictions again beginning on Monday, Aug. 3.

The sheriff's office says there are 390 warrants ready to be sent to them from the courts, and they have 90 more in their hands right now.

You may remember temporary federal protections for tenant expired over the weekend. Without it, landlords are required to give a 30-day eviction notice to tenants who are behind on rent before they can get the courts involved.

The sheriff's office has discretion for how it will enforce the court orders.

“The thing I want to tell you about the evictions is it’s got to go on. People who own houses need to get their property back. They’re paying taxes on it. And five months, people should have been able to come up with or deal or something to help their selves out where it wouldn’t be a big ordeal,” Sheriff John Wilcher said.

You can watch a replay of the live stream below:

Chatham County Sheriff’s Office announces plan for eviction enforcement

“I cannot stop it now. We ask those who are going to be evicted to cooperate with us. We’re just doing our jobs that we get paid for, and I’m doing the job that you, the citizens of this community pay me for,” Sheriff Wilcher said.

Chatham County deputies haven’t served a dispossessory warrant since March. Starting Monday, that will change.

“What we plan on doing right now is Monday, we’re going to try to do about 15 a day, if it’ll let us do that. Hopefully some of the evictions we go to, between now and Monday, these people have already vacated and will be what we call a walk-thru,” Sheriff Wilcher said.

That’s when a deputy accompanied by a landlord walk through the house to make sure everything and everyone are out.

“You know the landlords are entitled to their houses. They got to pay taxes, they’ve got to pay insurance, they got to pay everything else. And I feel sorry for the people, but there’s nothing I can do. I’m bound by law,” Sheriff Wilcher said.

The municipal courts in Chatham County began hearing eviction cases again in early June. That's after the Supreme Court of Georgia allowed courts to begin processing a backlog of civil cases, some that have been on hold since March.

According to Magistrate Judge Michael Barker, the backlog of dispossessory cases was about 500 and they're working their way through them now. But it's important to note, the cases in court now are only for landlords and tenants that are not protected under the Federal CARES Act.

The CARES act expired on Saturday. And there is still a 30-day eviction notice requirement before the case can be filed in court.

Judge Barker explained how the court is preparing for a wave of filings.

“Those cases will start to be filed late August, so we’ll have another wave of dispossesories mid-September that will have to account for and provide special dockets so we can clear those out. but we’ve been handling the backlog well, I think,” Judge Barker said.

Here's a look at who was protected under the CARES act.

Anyone who lives in {1} Public housing or has a {2} Housing Choice Voucher {3} Section 8 rental assistance {4} Project-based rental assistance {5} Rural rental assistance or a {6} tenant who lives in a residential property where the landlord has a federally backed mortgage.

Judge Barker said one of the silver linings because of the court backlog is that it’s allowed more time. Time for the tenants and landlord to work through their disputes. He said in many of those older cases, they’re finding that issue has been resolved before the court can schedule a hearing.

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