Some of the country’s largest residential landlords have relocated to evict thousands of tenants from their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, despite federal eviction measures, according to a new report.
Major landlords have filed nearly 10,000 eviction lawsuits in courts in five states, though a nationwide eviction moratorium issued by the CDC in September prevents them from evicting tenants affected by COVID-19 for non-payment of rent.
But while the CDC says such tenants cannot be physically removed from their homes before the end of the year, landlords are now allowed to initiate eviction proceedings and are not required to tell tenants about the protections available to them.
Thousands of those actions have been filed in 23 counties in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas since early September, according to NBC.
Major landlords have filed nearly 10,000 eviction lawsuits in courts in five states, although a nationwide eviction moratorium, enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sept. 4, prevents them from evicting tenants who claim they have been affected by COVID. 19
Major landlords filing numerous evictions include affluent US government corporations such as Invitation Homes, which own and rent 80,000 single-family homes across the country.
Court records show that the company has filed 122 eviction notices in the five states since September, despite the business thriving, with profits up 54 percent in the first six months of 2020 and an 80 percent increase in its stock price. since entered the market. March.
Another company filing the evictions is Progress Residential, which owns and rents 40,000 homes across the country.
Progress tenant Cristina Velez, of Boco Raton, Florida, shared NBC how the company issued her with an ultimatum on September 8 to pay the rent or deliver the property.
Just over two weeks later, Progress filed an eviction lawsuit against Velez, demanding $ 4,210.14 in rent and legal fees, while delivering the papers to her door, she said.
“I told them I was hit by Covid, but they didn’t care,” said Velez. “They are not very patient.”
Velez had recently lost her job as a head of the workforce team during a Covid-19 treatment trial.
The mother-of-one claimed that a Progress representative had not once told her about the CDC’s nationwide deportation moratorium.
“I said,” There must be something for people affected by Covid who are on leave, “the 46-year-old told Progress. “There’s nothing we can do,” the company’s representative replied, she said.
Velez said she eventually sold her car to settle the dispute and avoid eviction.
But while the CDC says such tenants cannot be physically removed from their homes before the end of the year, they allow landlords to initiate eviction proceedings now and don’t need to tell tenants about the protections available to them.
Her eviction action is one of 97 Progress Residential has filed against their tenants since the CDC announced its eviction ban.
A large and well-funded landlord, Progress is owned by Pretium Partners, a $ 3 billion hedge fund that invests in ailing properties.
In a statement, a Progress Residential spokesperson said: “Progress Residential is in constant discussion with tenants about matters related to their leases. While each issue is unique, we strive to work with tenants where appropriate to try to provide assistance during these extraordinary times.
Progress tenant, Cristina Velez, of Boco Raton, Florida, told NBC how the company issued an ultimatum to her on Sept. 8: either pay the rent or deliver the property. Just over two weeks later, Progress filed an eviction notice against Velez, demanding $ 4,210.14 in rent and legal fees, while delivering the papers to her door
Progress Residential complies with applicable law, including the CDC Moratorium, in enforcing rental foreclosures. Importantly, as part of the CDC Moratorium, tenants must provide a statement showing that they cannot pay the rent due to the impact of Covid-19. ‘
The company did not comment on its interactions with Velez.
Other large landlords owned by private equity firms are also filing for leases, according to a database compiled by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project – a nonprofit that examines the impact of private equity on communities.
For example, the Carlyle group has filed 42 lawsuits. But the best eviction, according to documents obtained by NBC is Ventron Management LLC, a Canadian real estate firm that has filed 281 lawsuits.
“The decisions of large companies to promote evictions despite the moratorium are literally a threat to the health of residents and the wider public,” Jim Baker, executive director of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, told NBC.
In response to the nonprofit, Kristi DesJarlais, senior vice president at Invitation Homes, cast doubts on the touted eviction figures, urging ‘We doubt the accuracy of the list.’
In addition, she insisted eviction is not the way they wanted to take action, said the company follows CDC rules and insists they work with tenants who are struggling to make rent as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
“ We have done what the CDC order mandates since the onset of the pandemic, ” she said in a statement, “ by partnering with our residents facing Covid-related financial difficulties and offering a variety of payment options. so they can stay at home ‘.
According to NBC, thousands of eviction actions have been filed in 23 counties in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas since early September.
Among the big landlords filing numerous evictions include affluent U.S. government corporations such as Invitation Homes, which own and rent 80,000 single-family homes across the country
When it announced the deportation ban, the CDC said it was crucial to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Many tenants out of work as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown are struggling to pay their rent; the CDC estimated that up to 40 million people could lose their homes without eviction protections.
The CDC’s ban came after a more limited moratorium in the CARES law expired in late August. Under the CDC ban, tenants are responsible for paying the full amount of rent owed to the landlord.
The recent surge in eviction requests may be related to a new CDC notice dated Oct. 9, which further clarified the terms of the ban.
The notice specified that landlords can now initiate eviction proceedings, even though they are not allowed to remove tenants until the end of the year and are not required to notify tenants of the ban or its terms.
Landlords are also free to challenge tenants’ affidavits that they have suffered damages as a result of Covid-19 – making it clear that there is no administrative appeal process for tenants facing such challenges.
Since the CDC provided the clarification, new eviction filings have increased dramatically. For example, in the week of Oct. 12, nearly 2,000 procedures were registered in the five states – almost twice as many as the week before, according to NBC.
Tenants say the CDC has now narrowed what should have been a broad ban on evictions and given the upper hand to landlords.
‘[It] puts more power back into the hands of landlords at the expense of low-income tenants, ”Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, told NBC. “It creates new burdens for tenants and creates new gaps in tenant protection.”
Even more troubling, if the CDC moratorium came to an end on Dec. 31 without replacement, a wave of evictions would likely lead to a tsunami of homelessness, experts warn.
“If you hit January 1, people will owe tens of thousands of rent in arrears,” warned Chris Groninger, chief strategy officer of the Arizona Bar Foundation. ‘We are currently creating poverty.’