As I reported last month, several states across the country are in the midst of trying to develop solutions to address the anticipated increase in evictions due to COVID-19. In addition to state preparations, earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued an Order to temporarily halt residential evictions in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. This order went into effect September 4, 2020 and will remain in effect through December 31, 2020.
In an effort to provide clarity and guidance to Indiana attorneys, landlords, tenants and courts in the wake of COVID-19, the Indiana Supreme Court launched a Landlord/Tenant Task Force in July. The Task Force has a dedicated Housing & Eviction During COVID-19 webpage on the Court’s website which includes a report from the Task Force, resources, and the latest updates about COVID-19 and eviction. When addressing the CDC’s recent order, the Task Force clarified that the CDC’s Order does not totally preclude evictions through December 31, 2020 in Indiana. To address confusion arising from the order, the Task Force has compiled an eviction questionnaire that parties can review to assess whether their case may be eligible for eviction. Finally, the Task Force has also developed a list of frequently asked questions, as well as a checklist for courts to use during court hearings if needed.
In the state’s continued effort to find solutions for parties, last month, the Court also launched a new Landlord and Tenant Settlement Conference Program to address the current rise in eviction and foreclosure cases in the state. The program utilizes the Fast-Track Facilitation platform and is available to eligible parties free of charge. Parties interested in participating in the program will use Fast-Track Facilitation to create and submit a new facilitation request. After a request is submitted, the platform will send an email to both the requesting party and the non-requesting party to confirm their interest in participating in the program. Should the non-requesting party fail to reply, the program staff will then contact the non-requesting party to confirm their willingness to participate. Once all parties have agreed, the parties will be assigned a facilitator to see if a settlement can be reached for their dispute.