Battle for eviction moratorium highlights struggling homeowners who “still have to find a way to pay”

The Biden administration’s decision to extend a moratorium on evictions has done little to address a looming crisis – or growing tensions between tenants and landlords, with both sides stuck in a cycle of confusion and desperation croissants.

For now, evictions are suspended again across the United States: tenants have until October 3 to obtain government assistance to pay their rent. However, the extension is already being challenged in courts – led by – where it may not survive legal scrutiny.

A growing number of homeowners have denounced the moratorium, extended for another 60 days as part of a controversial decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designed to target areas of the country where cases of COVID-19 are spreading rapidly.

While much of the focus has been on tenants hammered by the pandemic, the spotlight has shifted in recent days to landlords, according to 2018 data from the National Association of Renters.

In many cases, these “mom and pop” landlords are working class, and the fallout from COVID-19 has left them as cash-strapped and hard-pressed to pay their bills as their tenants.

“When they’re not receiving rent, they still have to find a way to pay off their mortgage on the property, pay for water, lights, insurance,” said Lucinda Lilley, president of the Southern California Rental Housing Association, at Yahoo Finance. Live in an interview this week described the patchwork of local, state and federal laws as “broken.”

‘Left holding the bag’

Tenants hold up signs as they protest to promote a state government bill (AB 1436) that will prohibit landlords from evicting tenants due to unpaid rent due to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in San Diego, California, United States, July 17, 2020. REUTERS / Mike Blake

Part of the reasoning behind the moratorium is to allow billions of unallocated federal money to flow to states and communities.

According to Treasury Department data, only one reached tenants and landlords. Each state has its own schedule and process for disbursing aid, but many have been overwhelmed by the demand from millions of people made unemployed by COVID-19 lockdowns.

And even with the delay, about 3.6 million people in the United States as of July 5 said they were at risk of deportation within the next two months, according to the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

On June 28, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law on June 28 extending the state’s eviction moratorium until September 30, the third time the state has extended the moratorium.

The plan calls for increased cash assistance to low-income tenants and small landlords, as part of a $ 5.2 billion assistance package. It doubles funding, while allowing payment of 100% of unpaid rents from low-income tenants through April 2020, until the eviction ban expires.

Yet the crisis has also highlighted the simmering tensions between landlords and tenants. Some landlords have described abusive treatment from tenants, some of whom have not asked for help or even refuse to acknowledge debts.

“The problem is that sometimes if a tenant isn’t willing to participate in this program, the rental housing provider has no way to go ahead and collect that money, so [landlords are] left holding the bag, ”Lilley told Yahoo Finance.

Despite state and state benefits still available to millions of people, more than 15 million people live in households that owe their owners up to $ 20 billion, according to the.

For tenants, online-only applications can present another challenge for people who are not tech savvy or who may not have internet access. It can also be difficult for tenants to obtain the necessary documents to request relief – and some may not want it for their own reasons.

Lilley described a woman “who owes the rental housing provider $ 21,000. She is about to get this rent assistance, but she has to provide additional information and she apparently dodges and refuses to provide it. So I don’t know what it is.

Yet less than ten percent of federal emergency rent relief was distributed in July, showing that more than half of renters, and many landlords across the country, are unaware that help is available. .

“We have to understand that the nationwide deportation system is broken and needs to be fixed,” Lilley said.

“It’s not about pitting tenants against rental housing providers. It’s about working together to overcome this.

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv

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