Where tenants are protected from eviction during the coronavirus pandemic

0
15


For millions of renters who have lost their income, May 1 rent day is an impending doom.

The majority of the 43.8 million tenant households in the country have lost at least part of their income in closing the coronavirus, a much higher proportion than owners, according to a survey by the Washington Post-University of Maryland at the half April.

This means that an increasing number of households are at risk of not paying their rents, which could turn into a national deluge of evictions and forced homelessness.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, state governments have adopted special rules to protect tenants. Landlords, lawyers, judges, sheriffs and tenants are all trying to keep up with the daily changes in the system.

“It is a lot of information and it is not easy to read everything,” said Hannah Adams, of Southeast Louisiana’s legal department. “This does not mean that tenants do not have to pay rent. The rent has not been suspended, canceled or pardoned by law. It’s just that the homeowner’s remedy against eviction is pending. ”

Princeton University’s Eviction Lab has created a dashboard to measure tenant protections. Each state gets a score of zero to five stars depending on the number of tenant protections and supports it has in place.

Many scores are not encouraging for tenants. Twenty-three states, with a total of 12.8 million tenant households, get less than one star. Six states score zero.

Tenant protections are generally stronger in the Northeast, Northwest and Midwest, and weaker in the more rural areas of the Southern States, Northern Plains and mountains.

The Eviction Lab discovered that Kentucky and South Carolina have significantly better protections than the rest of the South. The governor of Kentucky has told law enforcement officials not to deport during the state of emergency. The South Carolina Supreme Court has suspended the evictions until at least next month, according to laboratory research.

The deportation laboratory dashboard includes 16 measures grouped into five categories. The first three categories cover the measures that influence the process: initiation of eviction, litigation in court and execution of an eviction order. The other two categories are broader: short-term support for tenants and longer term assistance. (You can see the full methodology here.)

This graph shows how each state ranks in each of the five categories, sorted by its overall star score.

Even if these new rules are put in place, it is not clear how much protection they will provide to tenants or whether they will be applied consistently.

Federal care law passed at the end of March provided for a suspension of evictions until the end of July, without anyone being evicted from the house before the end of August – but federal rules only apply properties with government guaranteed loans. The Urban Institute estimates that the rule covers almost half of larger buildings with at least five apartments, and a much smaller share of rentals of single-family homes and small apartments. In total, Urban claims that the law protects 12.3 million households, or 28% of tenants.

But local housing courts are not used to enforcing federal law, except on issues of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. Tenants who very rarely have a lawyer can bear the burden of proving that the property has government-supported funding or is under state-mandated protections. Or judges could impose on owners the burden of proving that they are complying with the new rules.

Even when tenants are protected by federal law, landlords still issue eviction notices. For about a month, Adams said his agency in southeast Louisiana had dealt with 23 threats of illegal eviction – meaning an owner changes locks, puts property on the street, or takes other action without judicial expulsion procedure. Eight of them have gone from threats to action. Three of them were stranded in court, she said, and the other five were treated amicably.

“The owners are taking matters into their own hands in a way that is not legal,” she said.

One of these tenants is Janee, from New Orleans, 30, who spoke on condition that her family name not be used for fear of angering her apartment manager.

Last week, she received a notice of eviction asking her, in capital letters, to pay her rent of $ 850 in late April “WITHIN THREE DAYS”. He continued: “IF PAYMENT IS NOT MADE AS REQUESTED, THE REQUEST IS HEREBY MADE FOR YOU TO VOLUNTARILY VACUUM THE APARTMENT. “

Janee read it carefully and was angry that the style letter indicated that she had not communicated on her late rent. She said she had spoken several times this month with the manager and the assistant manager, assuring them that she would be paid on Friday and that she could then pay the rent.

” I was afraid. My heart was beating very fast. I was like, “What am I going to do? “I communicated with her throughout April. ”

Janee is one of 600,000 tenant households in Louisiana, where tenants are particularly vulnerable. State protection laws are weak and the coronavirus has been extremely deadly. The state’s economy has also been devastated as the tourism and oil and gas industries suffer catastrophically.

Janee said that she has not yet received her coronavirus stimulation payment and that her hands are full with four children aged 15 months to 12 years old in the two-bedroom and one bathroom apartment.

“I didn’t have the money to make a payment,” she said. “It was my hardest month in two years. “

Janee’s apartment is covered by health care law, said her lawyer, so she cannot be evicted, but that doesn’t stop the owners from trying.

The protections for tenants measured by the Eviction Lab are systematically weaker in states like Louisiana which have a higher proportion of tenants living in poverty, the Post-U.Md. poll found. None of the 11 states with a score of at least three stars has more than 23% of renters living in poverty, according to census data. But the 23 states with less than one star have nine with at least a quarter of their tenants in poverty.

More tenants

in poverty

Stronger

protections

Fewer tenants

in poverty

Stronger

protections

More

tenants

in poverty

Bad protections

Fewer tenants

in poverty

Bad protections

Fewer tenants

in poverty

Stronger protections

More tenants

in poverty

Stronger protections

More

tenants

in poverty

Bad protections

Fewer tenants

in poverty

Bad protections

Fewer tenants in poverty

Stronger protections

More renters in poverty

Stronger protections

More renters in poverty

Bad protections

Fewer tenants

in poverty

Bad protections

Fewer tenants in poverty

Stronger protections

More renters in poverty

Stronger protections

More renters in poverty

Bad protections

Fewer tenants in poverty

Bad protections

Even if the current protections can give certain tenants more rights than before, they can disappear quickly by rushing to reopen the country,

“In general, people living in poverty receive less political power,” said Cashauna Hill, executive director of the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center. “People who have wealth have influence and power and will work hard to continue to protect this.”

Louisiana’s eviction courts are closed at the moment, but Hill said the set was ready for a possible wave of evictions when they reopen, which could occur in mid-May.

Princeton University professor Matthew Desmond, an urban research scientist and principal investigator in the eviction lab, said the economic downturn is so vast that landlords cannot simply expect to move tenants and get new ones. They are going to have to work with people to get paid, he said.

“We have become dependent enough on eviction to solve the problem of families overburdened with rent,” he said. “It’s like a crime-fighting policy.” I hope this moment gives us the opportunity to say, “This is not the Solution.”

About this story: Data from the expulsion laboratory and reflects data as of April 27.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here