Stories of people who are not paying their rent and getting evicted. We are supposed to feel sorry for the people who are living in apartments rent free, and have been doing so for more than a year.
There is Mariva Robinson, who was more than $5,000 behind in rent, and expected the landlord to waive everything and let her stay in the home (still without money to pay) as a part of the Orange County, Florida government giveaway. As a condition of accepting the government giveaway, the landlord has to agree to waive all claims against the tenant, as well as to other, unspecified conditions. In January, she owed $5,000 in back rent. After receiving no payments, the landlord finally evicted her in March, with her owing $12,700 in back rent and other expenses.
Then there is Lichelle Reynolds, who rented a two story home near Tampa for $1,835 a month. The home came with access to a community pool, tennis courts, and a clubhouse: all things that the landlord must pay the HOA for, whether the tenant uses them or not. In Florida, if the home owner doesn’t pay the HOA fees, the HOA can foreclose on the property.
At any rate, Ms. Reynolds tried to make partial payments. If a landlord accepts a partial payment, they can’t evict. So the landlord locked her out of the online payment system. I would do the same. Accepting even $50 on a rent of $1835 would forestall eviction and this would be a huge money loser for the landlord.
By the time January came around, Reynolds owed more than $10,000 in back rent. The landlord lost in court, so now she still lives there for free, and owes more than $15,000 in back rent. I’m sure she is heartbroken as she lays by the pool, watching her kids take tennis lessons.
The third sob story involves a man who claims he suffers from blackouts as a result of a Harley motorcycle accident and can’t remember the landlord calling him to ask for money. In this case, the landlord claims he is not subject to the CDC declaration. The article doesn’t say why, but I am guessing they will claim that it isn’t COVID that is preventing him from paying, it is the motorcycle accident. I agree.
The article states “it’s the big, deep-pocketed corporate landlords with property portfolios spanning multiple states that have been the most aggressive in filing eviction cases, even as they have thrived in the pandemic.” The reason for this is simple: the small mom and pop landlords can’t afford the attorneys and exorbitant costs of a legal eviction, while the deadbeat tenant gets a free lawyer. So, the small business owner is forced to eat the cost, and has to shoulder the burden that the government has placed upon the economy. The landlords have had their property taken to house people without compensation, an obvious violation of the takings clause, if we had an honest court system.
There are similar articles from places like Memphis, where a Federal judge has ruled that the Federal government has overstepped its constitutional bounds. There is also this article from Tampa, where tenants are complaining that landlords are refusing to sink any more money into maintaining property that isn’t producing any income.
I feel sorry for these people, I do. However, it is wrong to blame landlords for a situation that they are suffering under but did not cause. If the government is going to deny evictions, then the government should be the one paying for it. At the end of the day, the landlord owns the home, is paying insurance, maintenance, taxes, and HOA fees on the home, but the government tells them that they must let people live there for free.
Sure, they claim that the eviction order doesn’t erase the debt, but let’s be honest here- how exactly is a landlord supposed to collect a year’s worth of back rent? The only option is to evict a tenant to control the losses, knowing that you likely will not see the remainder of what they owe, and yes, future landlords need to know that this tenant is the type of tenant that will go a year without paying rent. Name another business where the business must give away its product for free, plus may not tell anyone else that the company stiffed them.
Imagine a law that said a consumer can buy a car, and then refuse to pay for it, but the car dealer can’t repossess the car, can’t report the default to the credit bureau, and must still provide warranty service if the car breaks down. THAT is what is happening.