CLEVELAND, Ohio – The extended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction ban could prolong the problems tenants and landlords have already faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new eviction moratorium is intended to target areas of the country where cases are rapidly spreading and mass evictions would worsen the spread – specifically places experiencing “substantial or high levels of community transmission.” The temporary ban halts evictions until Oct. 3, replacing a previous moratorium that was allowed to expire July 31.
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A study released by the Aspen Institute estimated as many as 15 million people in the U.S. were at risk of eviction when the previous eviction ban ended.
Among those at risk, Wanda Overton, who is four months behind on rent for a home in Cleveland, Ohio. When her landlord first served her with a three-day notice to pay in April, she said he cut off her power and utilities.
“If you put the lights out and turn the water off, what’s next, you might change the locks then I’ll be outside,” she said.
Overton said she fell behind when she was unable to work for almost a month after suffering a non-COVID-related medical emergency. She claimed her landlord would not accept a payment plan when she returned to her job.
“I said ‘OK, I can give you half of the rent.’ He said he didn’t want half of the rent, he wants all his rent money. I asked my mother if she could call him and reason with him and he disrespected her,” she said.
Overton appeared in Cleveland’s housing court Wednesday after seeking assistance from the Cleveland Housing Network. She told Fox News she has yet to receive monetary aid but is hopeful the new moratorium will give her time to qualify for rental relief.
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The Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) allocated by Congress for both renters and landlords totals nearly $47 billion. However, lawmakers and rental advocates say the money has been distributed too slowly by states and municipalities. Just $3 billion in ERA funding has been distributed so far, according to U.S. Treasury data.
Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said some communities are bogged down with bureaucracy that makes the federal assistance harder to get.
“[They’re] having unnecessarily complicated applications, with burdensome documentation requirements,” said Yentel. “This is slowing down the process for everyone.”
Yentel said some communities are also struggling with staffing and technology issues that make it harder to process an increased caseload, while some landlords are refusing to accept the funding.
Aretha Young, a landlord in Cleveland, said she has applied for federal assistance but has not yet received payment. Young, who owns a handful of rental homes, told Fox News the moratorium has prevented her from removing a tenant who not only fell behind on rent but trashed the rental home when her lease ultimately expired.
“I still need her out of there, you know, her lease is up. There’s no reason for her to stay,’ Young said. “They won’t let me get things out of there like I want to. She ain’t paid no rent, and I got to pay the water bill and I got to pay taxes on it and I can’t do neither one of them without her moving on out and letting me get the place renovated.”
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George Hoover, a Cleveland property manager, said he has been able to collect federal assistance. He said his employer, Trinity Commercial Realty, has helped a number of renters qualify for thousands in emergency rental relief. Hoover told Fox News landlords should be encouraged to hear more money is still available.
“There’s just so much money that’s still out there that these tenants have not taken advantage of,” he said. “We find that discouraging and in an interesting way encouraging because it means there’s a lot of money left. If I’m a landlord I’m telling tenants to go out there and apply for that assistance to apply it to your rent roll for the month.”
View more information: https://www.foxbusiness.com/economy/eviction-moratorium-prolongs-uncertainty-for-tenants-landlords