MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Monday, eviction hearings picked up again in Shelby County civil court, and those with Memphis Area Legal Services are helping out to avoid a potential surge in tenants being forced out of their properties later this summer.

Those with Memphis Area Legal Services said there’s more than 9,000 pending eviction cases in Shelby County, about one-third more than this time last year.

Limited dockets with social distancing means those eviction hearings will be more spread out – which could buy tenants more time.

Any property owner who receives federal money under the CARES Act cannot send an eviction notice until July 23rd.

Legal experts advised anyone with an eviction notice to appear in court, ask for a continuance, or communicate with their property owner.

“If you are behind – have you spoken with your landlord, have you tried to work something out with them, particularly if you’ve been called back to work or told that you are going to be called back to work. You have every reason to talk to your landlord and say, look, it is going to get better, bear with me, here’s what I can do,” Memphis Area Legal Services CEO Cindy Ettingoff said.

Several demonstrators and some state representatives held signs Monday morning outside Shelby County civil court, asking for more local and state property renter protections.

A 2017 study from Apartment List found Memphis with the highest rate of evictions among the nation’s 50 largest cities.

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