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Decatur renters hold rally, say they’re being wrongfully evicted

<i>WGCL</i><br/>Decatur Georgia renters held a rally
Decatur Georgia renters held a rally

By Don Shipman

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    DECATUR, Georgia (WGCL) — More than 200 people in Decatur are being forced out of their homes. They’re calling on their county government to help. Many of them gathered outside the DeKalb County government building Thursday morning to participate in a rally. They say they’re being wrongfully evicted.

They live at Forest at Columbia Apartments. Last month the apartment complex’s management company handed all 200-plus renters eviction notices, giving them two months to get out.

Meridian Management Company told tenants that mass evictions are necessary because the apartments need to be renovated.

“There are people who have lived here for two- or three-years decades. And they’re on fixed incomes a lot of them,” said a tenant spokesperson. “Without any legal proceedings, without any help or aid in moving, and without any due process on whether any of these folks should be evicted.”

The tenants’ notice of termination states that they must be out by August 31, 2022.

Georgia renters do not have many protections. The nonprofit Housing Justice League says they’ve seen a dramatic increase in eviction court filings in recent months. Anhton Tran says once an eviction is filed it doesn’t take long before a tenant is out on the street.

“We have one of the fastest eviction processes. You have seven days to answer your eviction. There is no right to cure, meaning the right to address the reason for the eviction before it’s filed in the court system,” said Tran.

Making matters more troublesome for a renter, once their name is attached to an eviction court filing it can be difficult to find new housing. An eviction notice will likely pop up on a background check when applying for a new lease.

The Housing Justice League is looking for volunteers to answer questions on their Tenant Solidarity Hotline. They say call volume has increased in recent months.

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