Landlord On Rise In Evictions: 'Everybody Has Compassion' But Tenants 'Can't Live For Free'

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A "Notice to Vacate" is seen in the window of a foreclosed home in Glendale, California, in 2012. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
A "Notice to Vacate" is seen in the window of a foreclosed home in Glendale, California, in 2012. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

State eviction bans are beginning to expire as the coronavirus pandemic continues to damage the economy and stifle job growth.

Starting Sept. 1, landlords in Pennsylvania and Hawaii can once again begin evicting any tenant who is falling behind of rent.

The economic and health fallout from the pandemic is hitting Black and Brown communities the hardest — and the pending housing crisis is no exception. According to a report by the Washington Post, evictions will hurt people of color the most.

Many tenants would like state-mandated eviction moratoriums to remain in place as the coronavirus crisis continues. But landlords say they are also feeling the pressure.

Paul Howard, founder of the Florida Landlord Network, is sympathetic to the “horrifying” experience many are facing amid historic job losses. He said one of the first things the network did was reach out to their tenants in order to work with them to get caught up on rent during trying times. He was surprised at the number of renters who didn’t respond.

“It looks like about 30% of people are not paying their rent and that's very painful. But landlords everywhere are eager to work with tenants,” he says. “No one likes evictions. But at the same time, it is very hard when you've got people who take advantage of the system.”

In Florida, “a lot of evictions” have already been filed, he says, despite Sept. 1 being the actual state eviction moratorium’s end date. Housing advocates fear a tsunami of new people experiencing homelessness in Central Florida is on the horizon, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Howard says landlords are trying to dig themselves out of economic hardships as well.

“In a manner of speaking, the government came to me, one taxpayer, and said, you have to pay rent for this guy for the next three, four or five months. And that was always a bitter pill to swallow,” he says.

And with the country’s deficit in the trillions, he doesn’t see a federal solution to keep people in their homes. That’s why he is trying to work directly with tenants as much as possible.

“I'd much rather work it out with folks in some equitable way,” he says. “I'm willing to give up a lot to try to keep a good tenant in there and over time maybe get caught up. But it's just a very difficult situation for everyone.”

The activist group Kansas City Tenants in Kansas City, Missouri, is blocking eviction court proceedings and says minority populations need housing security during a pandemic that disproportionately affects them. The group is calling for a cancel rent ordinance.

Canceling rent for renters means someone else has to pay for it, he says, which isn’t attainable when he has mortgages, utilities and repairs to keep up with.

“Somewhere along the line, somebody's got the idea that housing is a right,” he says. “And I guess we all want everyone to have a nice place to live.”

The housing market has been tight for quite some time now, he says, a trend sparked from millennials who aren’t buying houses because they either aren’t willing or are suffocating under college debt.

He’s not certain what will happen to those who are evicted but predicts the market will “absorb them pretty quickly” within the next several months.

Lynn Menegon produced this interview and edited it for broadcast with Tinku RaySerena McMahon adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on August 27, 2020.


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Jeremy Hobson Former Co-Host, Here & Now
Before coming to WBUR to co-host Here & Now, Jeremy Hobson hosted the Marketplace Morning Report, a daily business news program with an audience of more than six million.


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Serena McMahon Digital Producer
Serena McMahon was a digital producer for Here & Now.



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