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Wed Jun 17, 2020, 02:22 AM

'Despite Eviction Bans, Local Landlords Are Still Threatening To Kick Out Tenants'

"Despite Eviction Bans, Local Landlords Are Still Threatening To Kick Out Tenants," By Ally Schweitzer, WAMU, dcist, June 15, 2020. (Metro D.C., Md., Va. Focus).

Sophie thought her landlord had cut her a break on the rent. Then she saw the notice posted to her door.

The letter was from Bozzuto, the high-end real estate firm that manages her apartment building in Rosslyn [Va.]. It said she had five days to pay the $1,306.80 she owed in back rent and late fees, or the company would begin the eviction process. It didn’t matter that the company had allowed Sophie to pay half her rent in April and May after COVID-19 forced her to stop working as a housekeeper. Nor did it matter that Arlington courts weren’t hearing new eviction cases after a statewide ban that’s since been extended to June 28. A Bozzuto representative says the company made it clear Sophie wasn’t being evicted. But that’s not how Sophie interpreted the letter she received.

--“You must either vacate said Premises or pay the rent in arrears within 5 (five) days of receipt of this notice or else Landlord intends to terminate your lease and proceed to obtain possession of the Premises,” read a section of the notice. -- “I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ ” says the 64-year-old, who asked WAMU to refer to her by her nickname to protect her privacy. “I was shocked to find this out when they had said they would work with me.”
Out-of-work tenants across the Washington region have reported similar actions by landlords in recent weeks, despite the fact that most eviction proceedings been halted during the public health emergency. Sending eviction notices right now isn’t illegal, property managers point out, and small landlords in particular are seeking to avoid foreclosure — especially if they’re not eligible for federal mortgage relief. But tenant advocates say some landlords’ rent-collection practices during the pandemic have crossed the line into bullying.

- Sami Bourma is helping organize a rent strike at Southern Towers, a five-building apartment complex in Alexandria, Va. where many residents have been laid off.

“During this huge economic crisis resulting from a public health crisis that hasn’t ended, most reputable landlords are not sending five-day notices,” says Christine Marra, director of housing advocacy at the Virginia Poverty Law Center. “Most reputable landlords are working with their tenants, setting up payment plans and trying to accommodate them.” Local officials, including Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, have urged landlords to be flexible with tenants who have lost their jobs.
Yet some renters say property owners and managers have used an array of tactics to compel them to pay. Some have called all hours of the day, engaged in public shaming and dispatched tough-looking men to tenants’ doors to collect overdue rent. Others have sent letters that, while legal, mislead tenants into thinking they could lose their homes in the middle of a health crisis.

“Most folks aren’t looking at the language [in these notices] that closely,” says Matt Hill, an attorney with Maryland’s Public Justice Center. “They just see ‘eviction,’ and they’re automatically intimidated by that.”

...A major federal cash infusion is necessary to match the scale of the crisis, advocates say. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that Congress would have to approve at least $100 billion in aid to help just the country’s neediest renters. Waiting for evictions to come roaring back — possibly leading to a spike in homelessness — would be costlier than enacting preventive measures now, says Matt Hill with the Public Justice Center. “The state’s going to spend a lot on shelter, Medicaid, foster care costs, the costs of transporting homeless students from one school to another,” Hill says. “It’s much cheaper … to put an amount into rental assistance.”...

Read More, https://dcist.com/story/20/06/15/eviction-notices-dc-md-va-covid19-pandemic-law/

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Reply 'Despite Eviction Bans, Local Landlords Are Still Threatening To Kick Out Tenants' (Original post)
appalachiablue Jun 17 OP
appalachiablue Jun 17 #1

Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Wed Jun 17, 2020, 02:45 AM

1. Excerpt from article:

..."Meanwhile, many unemployed tenants lack the financial cushion to cover rent during the crisis. Unemployment offices have struggled to pay out benefits in time; rental assistance is in short supply; and in Arlington County, more than 70% of low-income renters are already considered severely cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than 50% of their income on housing. In the District, 53% of low-income renters are severely cost-burdened."..

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