Renters in New Mexico already reeling from widespread layoffs as businesses shut down amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak may have one less problem to worry about: the threat of eviction.
The New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts on Tuesday (March 24) announced that the New Mexico Supreme Court would be placing a temporary hold on all evictions for inability to pay rent "during the COVID-19 public health emergency," reads a press release from Barry Massey, public information officer for the courts.
"Under the court's order, judges will stay the execution of writs of restitution that property owners can obtain and give to law enforcement to force the removal of a tenant," the press release reads. "Tenants will need to provide the court with evidence of their current inability to pay their rent."
Unemployment applications have spiked across the state after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a statewide order on Monday (March 23) for all nonessential businesses and nonprofits to close down. The governor also urged New Mexicans to practice social distancing and self-isolation in order to slow the spread of the virus, of which there were 83 confirmed cases in the state as of press time.
"New Mexicans are struggling financially as workplaces close because of the public health emergency," said Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura. "The court's order will provide temporary relief for families and individuals facing the [possibility] of losing their housing at a time when the governor and public health officials have ordered New Mexicans to remain at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19."
Courts throughout the state are also allowing New Mexicans additional time to pay fines and fees. Audio and video teleconferencing for court proceedings are also being made available to reduce the number of courthouse visits. The courts had also previously announced that all criminal trials that had not begun before March 17 would be suspended.
The governor's order is in effect until April 10 at 8 a.m. unless amended or extended.
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