Can we save renters from eviction?
My friend has been awaiting courts to reopen in Ohio, because he has serious business he must conduct there. Now, he’s not thrilled to have to do this, but what choice does he have?
He owns a dozen or so houses that he rents, and handful of his renters have seen their income vanish — victims all of a virus that shows it has no compassion for those on the margins.
Absent jobs, they welcomed the eviction moratoriums, which faced delays anyway because Eviction Courts were closed. They’re opening now, and months of back rent have come due. Pay or my friend has no option but to seek an eviction notice.
Not that he doesn’t understand his renters’ plight. He does. But owning and renting property are his occupation. He has pre-adolescent children to support and frets about how to finance their college education. Evicting “freeloaders” is the only way he has of keeping the stream of money he needs flowing into his bank account.
He finds no solace here. He prefers to work out a payment plan. But he’s no first-timer in this eviction business. He knows if he gives renters a payment plan they aren’t likely to catch up. Paycheck to paycheck is how too many of his renters live.
So he heads to Eviction Court for a judgment — several, actually.
My friend won’t be alone. Experts predict a flood of landlords will seeks evictions in the weeks ahead. They will get them, too. Tenants will be no-shows, and they will find out they are evicted when sheriff’s deputies come and order them to vacate the place.
The life of a landlord is a lousy one — sometimes. When times are flush, he has fewer problems with late payments. He tacks on a late fee and off he goes.
No fuss. No friction.
But these aren’t such times. He and landlords elsewhere are coming for their money, and even a renter has it or out he goes. The pandemic saved them once; it might not save them a second time.
Congress and state governments have to know the coronavirus has sent millions to the poorhouse. The unemployment rate stands at double digits, and the numbers are going up and not down. The economy looks as pitiful now as it did in 2008.
The Washington Post reported earlier this month that evictions will hit Black renters like a Mike Tyson uppercut. The Post said 110 million Americans are renters, and of that total, 20 percent are looking at an eviction by Sept. 30.
Congress might be able to spare them, but only if legislators renew the eviction moratorium and the stimulus payments.
A renter should prefer the former over the latter. For even if Congress gives them another $1,200 stimulus check, the federal dollars won’t be enough to allow renters to cover their rental arrears. They will be left with one option: praying their landlord will extend himself farther.
My friend often has, but he has no more extensions left in him. He has bills he must pay, which include mortgages on a handful of his properties.
So he’s talking to tenants, not trying to blindside them. But he needs his money, and if he can’t, he’s unwilling to let people slide. They have, he said, done that long enough.