House minority lawmakers are appealing to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to prohibit any evictions of residential and commercial tenants, along with late fees and penalties, as the community reels from the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in the CNMI.
The group of legislators are asking Torres to follow the lead of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who issued an executive order prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants for non-payment, until May 31, 2020; where tenants are required to inform their landlords of their incapacity to pay due to COVID-19.
In a letter dated March 20, the minority bloc asked Torres to “prohibit any evictions of residential or commercial tenants, including any late fees or penalties, during the state of emergency” They also asked that the governor prohibit any foreclosures on residential or commercial properties, including any late fees or penalties.
While there is a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program being rolled out by the federal government, to assist workers who are affected by the COVID-19 economic decline, minority leader Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan), said that the program will take some time to set up and for the people in the CNMI to receive the benefits.
“This is all the more reason why we need to ensure we don’t see our people being evicted right now,” Propst said.
He said that time is of the essence, and that “many of our people do not have time, as they are being evicted this month. Some have already been served eviction notices and have been told to vacate their rentals immediately.”