Mesa woman evicted from her home amid coronavirus pandemic, despite the Governor's Executive Order

Posted at 4:48 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 09:55:07-04

MESA, AZ — Michelle Lewis has been renting a house in Mesa for more than a decade.

On Friday, she was evicted.

This happened despite the Governor's Executive Order that is supposed to protect people from being forced from their home during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Did all the homework, wasn't enough," Lewis said. "Did everything that was required in the executive order, wasn't enough."

Lewis and her roommate have been going back and forth with her landlord for more than a month now within the Maricopa County Justice Court system.

In filings obtained by ABC15 Arizona, the landlord claims that Lewis was asked to vacate toward the end of February. Lewis said, they had plans to move out, but the coronavirus halted everything and could not make any money.

"We were just decimated by it," Lewis said.

Lewis is a food vendor who relies on downtown sports, like the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks to bring in the crowds.

But those stadiums and ballparks are empty.

Her roommate was working Spring Training, which was also canceled.

"So right now, they are changing the locks as you see behind us," Lewis said.

ABC15 Arizona was there when the constable came. But they are not violating the Governor's Executive Order, even though that may seem confusing.

To see Joe Ducey's follow along with constables in Arizona, click here.

According to the Maricopa County Justice Court, the order gives a constable the power to delay an eviction. In an email, Scott Davis wrote, "This leads to a lot of confusion for tenants when they get the eviction notice. They think they can simply go to court, say they were affected by COVID, and the eviction will be canceled. This is wrong."

The Executive Order does not express specifically what is or is not evidence of an inability to pay due to the coronavirus. It is often left up to judges to determine.

Davis goes on to explain that, if you are a tenant who is struggling to pay rent because of a coronavirus-related issue, you should have conversations with your landlord about it and see what can be worked out.

However, if a tenant does not pay, regardless of the reasoning, a landlord may move forward with the eviction suit after giving the renter the required 5-day notice to pay.

From there, it would come to the court system.

Specifically, in Lewis' case, this suit was taken to the court system prior to the Governor's Executive Order, which runs from March 11 through the end of May.

Lewis was in court on Tuesday, and the judge told both Lewis and the landlord to communicate and try to work through a solution. However, the landlord decided to move forward with what is called a 'Writ of Restitution' ordering the pair out Friday.

Lewis is now wondering how many other people are out there who believe the Executive Order will keep a roof over their head, when that may not be the case.

"Back up everything, record everything," Lewis said. "Document, document, document and it might still not be enough... I really don't want people to live in fear, but the same point - the government is failing us here."

Are you being evicted?

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To learn more about landlord, tenant options during the pandemic, click here.