Eviction 'rocket docket' has some hiccups in Middle Tennessee

Patricia Copeland
Posted at 5:54 PM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 20:03:44-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There’s an uptick in eviction cases making their way through courts in Middle Tennessee, but not all the cases are being handled as they should.

Patricia Copeland paid her rent in Madison for six years. She splits it with her sister. They were told rent is going up, but they can't afford it on a fixed income.

A new state law makes it difficult for renters to challenge their eviction.

Patricia was evicted, but NewsChannel5 discovered it was done incorrectly. A person — who's not the property owner — filed for the eviction, which is not allowed. The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands stepped in to help. They were able to buy Patricia some more time.

"It just kind of depends on, I hate to say the role of the dice, but they have to go in and defend themselves unfortunately in a lot of cases," Attorney Karin Morris said.

She said a lot of people are in Patricia's shoes.

"A person has to know how to represent themselves, and it has to be dealt with quickly,” Morris said. “It’s called the rocket docket."

That's because eviction cases happen so fast.

"The best option is to just contact us and get the help that you need," Morris said.

Renters are supposed to be out of their homes in 10 days which is the law.

During the pandemic, there was a temporary halt on most evictions due to the moratorium by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of COVID-19.

While the eviction will likely be re-filed by the property owner, Patricia had a little more time to look for a new place to stay.

"It’s hard, it’s really hard," Copeland said.

Patricia was initially excited when she found a mobile home to rent in Westmoreland with a roommate. However, that fell through so she's still looking.