The corporate USA entered the lucrative Rental market in 2008 in the aftermath of the financial crisis and has met up with another crisis in 2020 still counting in 2021. At that time, an apparent superheated housing market actually consisted of weak mortgages that were sold to investors.
Americans With Job Losses And Pay Cuts Not Being Able To Pay Rents; Evicted In Spite Of CDC Ban
Goldman Sachs had been one of the main bankers backing this market. As the recession began to take shape, homeowners began defaulting on their loans and this apparent market collapsed. When Goldman Sachs walked away with a profit, 10 million Americans had to lose their homes in a wave of foreclosures.
Come 2020 and the covid 19 Pandemic slowed the American economy down. A Princeton University Eviction lab study report revealed that 318,091 households are rent defaulters across the 27 U.S. cities that it covers. The actual figures across the United States are sure to be much higher.
This time, however, the story is slightly different. This time the evictees are tenants who have not been able to pay their rent due to job losses and the pay cuts that the pandemic has directly or indirectly caused.
One woman, Marvia Robinson, a Greyhound Bus Driver, suffered a pay cut to just US 65 Dollars for two weeks. She could not pay her rent, ran up 4,920 Dollars in unpaid rent, and was evicted from her home nineteen days ago by Invitation Homes, as reported by Reuters in a special report.
The matter is serious as it is estimated that by May 2021, seven million Renters will owe US 40 billion dollars in unpaid rents and fees.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) had issued a moratorium of 4 September 2020, asking landlords not to evict renters. But research by the Equity Stakeholder’s Project revealed that 70,000 eviction notices were served in just 27 cities and that the CDC order was not being followed.
The Equity Stakeholder Project Director Jim Baker admitted that this data barely scratches the surface. He added that giant corporate landlords have driven the Eviction drives and have profited even in the pandemic.
Leading Rental brokers such as Invitation Homes, Progress Residential and Ventron Management were quick to clarify about eviction being a last resort. The problem, they explained, is due to most of the landlords themselves being heavily dependent on the rents they received, causing them to complaint about unpaid rents.
Many Eviction cases are pending and many landlords may be compensated by the US 50 billion dollars Rent relief recently approved by Congress.
Research by the Equity Stakeholder’s Project also revealed that higher income families had moved to the suburbs for more space and more safety. This resulted in particularly Invitation Homes making a 200million Dollar profit, its share doubling since March 2020.
When contacted, Progress Residential explained they had not evicted anyone with a valid CDC declaration but reserve the right to proceed in accordance with applicable law. Invitation Homes stated that eviction filings do not equal actual evictions. They added that a vast majority of the cases are resolved with the renter living in the house and with no record of any eviction.
The CDC has, however, not responded to queries on the large number of evictions. The action taken by them so far is to extend the 2 month deadline to 30 June.
Coming back to Marvia Robinson, an Orange county Judge in Orange County Court in Florida approved her eviction though She had filed a notice claiming she qualified for relief under the CDC national Moratorium on Evictions. Even after eviction, she has reportedly been served a notice to pay 12,800.
Landlords win eviction filings as the CDC moratorium is open to interpretation by judges. This provides opportunities to landlords to argue that tenants have violated the terms of a lease and engaged in criminal activity.
The CDC will need to enforce its moratorium and do more than just extend the deadline. Relief is urgently needed for the 22 million Americans who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Stricter monitoring and action by the CDC and related authorities are the need of the hour.