The number of evictions in Knox County has slowed since the first few months last year after a federal moratorium ended.

“It appears to have slowed some to a ‘normal’ amount of eviction proceedings,” Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll said.

The Sheriff’s offices in Maine are tasked by state law with serving paperwork to people being evicted. The process is for landlords to go to court and get paperwork that must be served to tenants. Court hearings are scheduled, and the judge will order the two parties to meet with a mediator. If no agreement can be reached, a hearing is held.

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of possession is then issued, which is served to tenants by the Sheriff’s Office, ordering them to leave the premises.

If tenants don’t leave, the tenants could face criminal charges for criminal trespass.

During the first five months of 2022, the Sheriff’s Office served 25 notices to quits to tenants. Nine writs of possessions were issued by the court and served by the Sheriff’s Office.

In the last four months of 2021 after the moratorium ended, 17 writs of possessions were served in Knox County.

Sheriff Carroll said rarely does the department have to charge anyone with criminal trespass for refusing to leave the property.

The sheriff noted late last year while someone can be arrested, the sheriff said, more times than not, deputies will help work out a plan that works for both the landlords and tenants to get them out of the properties in a timely manner. While deputies are not allowed to provide legal advice to tenants, he said, they will direct them to services.

A federal moratorium was in place starting September 2020, by order of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people who lost income due to the pandemic. The agency wanted to avoid evictions to prevent people from being thrown out of their homes during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The moratorium ended near the end of August 2021, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the CDC exceeded its authority. Landlords, real estate companies, and trade associations challenged the moratorium.