Idaho courts pilot online eviction negotiations in Ada County as moratorium ends July 31

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

As the national pandemic moratorium on eviction ends July 31, the Idaho Supreme Court announced the use of a new tool to help landlords and tenants settle disputes in Ada County.

The moratorium on eviction was put in place when the pandemic began, largely to avoid crowding people into congregate settings such as homeless shelters. As July 31 nears, housing authority officials have expressed concern about the backlog of looming evictions.

The parties involved in new evictions stemming from nonpayment of rent will be invited to negotiate an agreement through an online portal that may remove the need for them to attend court, according to a news release from the state judicial branch.

The online service comes as the moratorium nears its end and while the state continues to grapple with a housing shortage. The Ada County program is a pilot, but could expand to other counties if it succeeds.

Sunny Shaw, executive director of the Housing Alliance and Community Partnership in Pocatello, recently told the Idaho Reports podcast that evictions are a concern in her part of the state as well.

The online service will direct users on how to contact agencies that offer financial support for those whose ability to pay rent was affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The service uses software that guides parties through a negotiation process and the necessary information for an agreement. It allows both sides to address items that would not be part of a normal eviction case, including payment of owed rent,” according to the court.

The online service also allows parties to address their case on their own time rather than during courthouse business hours, and save on costs like travel and parking related to attending court in person.

Th program is accessible by any device that can connect to the internet.

If tenants and landlords are not able to come to an agreement using the new service, they will still have the option of going through the traditional court process.

“We hope this service will help ensure landlords and tenants are aware of the financial assistance available to them, and that they have every opportunity to resolve their dispute in a way that satisfies both parties,” said Ada County Magistrate Judge Adam Kimball in a press release.

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