Governor extends moratorium on utility shutoffs, stops evictions

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2020

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While the nation’s eyes have turned to protests and riots across the country in the past week, many Americans still find themselves dealing with the prolonged economic impacts of business closures during the response to COVID-19. Monday marked the first of the month, and with it came the pressures of rent and utility bills coming due.

North Carolinians struggling with their finances will have some reprieve, however, after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order this weekend extending prohibitions on utility shut offs and placing a moratorium on rental evictions. The North Carolina Council of State concurred with the order, raising no objections.

“North Carolinians need relief to help make ends meet during the pandemic,” Cooper said. “Extending housing and utility protections will mean more people can stay in their homes and stay safe as we all work to slow the spread of this virus.”

Under Executive Order 142, landlords are forbidden from evicting tenants due to late payment or nonpayment through June 20. The provisions of that order apply to both residential and commercial tenants. Further, tenants then have six months afterwards to arrange for the payment of back rent, with late fees and other penalties disallowed.

“North Carolinians want to pay their rent, but for far too many people — through no fault of their own — that’s just not possible right now,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “We are in unprecedented times that call for unprecedented action. I support Gov. Roy Cooper’s extension of the moratorium on evictions to ensure that people do not face homelessness in the midst of this health and economic crisis.”

The order also extends an existing moratorium on utility disconnections and late fees. Those restrictions will remain in place through the end of July. Previously, local utility companies, including Washington Electric Utilities, Tideland EMC and Duke Energy Progress, have committed to working with customers who need to make alternative arrangements to pay their bills.

A full copy of Executive Order 142 is available here.