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Over fifty Dane County evictions during federal moratorium

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MADISON (WKOW) - Data shows there were over fifty evictions in Dane County over the first two months of a pandemic-prompted federal moratorium on evictions.

President Trump's executive order creating the moratorium protects non-paying renters who make less than $99,000 from eviction until the end of the year. Households with taxable income of less than $198,000 are also protected from eviction over non-payment.

But evictions are still taking place over violations of lease terms involving police calls and other requirements. "Folks who have lost housing who've needed to what's called 'double up' and go live with folks that are in violation of their guest policy," Tenant Resource Center Executive Director Robin Sereno says.

Data from the Dane County Sheriff's Office shows since the onset of the federal eviction moratorium Sept. 4 through Oct. 31, there have been fifty-one evictions, with thirty of them involving deputies enforcing the eviction order.

Sereno says some of those evicted believe alleged lease violations were methods to sidestep the moratorium on eviction over non-payment.

Sereno says a University of Pennsylvania study demonstrates the impact of eviction. "For every sixty folks that are evicted, it's going to result in one death," she cites from the study results.

Sereno says an eviction is an economic hit for both tenant and landlord. "There's a high cost to turn over a unit," she says. "It's about a thousand dollars each time a unit is vacated."

"And for those who even have an eviction filing here, even if it was dismissed, that's on your record for 20 years here," Sereno says, maintaining such a record makes someone "unrentable."

Sereno says the resource center's mediation service is helping bring tenants at risk for eviction and property owners together to discuss resolutions short of a court order. "The mediator is just sort of a neutral person in the middle," Sereno says. She says mediation has allowed some renters to escape eviction.

A representative of the Apartment Association of South Central Wisconsin has yet to respond to a request for comment from 27 News.

The continuing trend of evictions in Dane County could exacerbate an already long waiting list maintained by the resource center. Sereno says 15,000 households are on the list awaiting financial help to meet rent obligations during the pandemic. Sereno says $10 million in CARES funding to assist renters with payments was exhausted in twelve weeks earlier this year.

The moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent is scheduled to end Jan. 1, 2021.

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Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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