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The other side of the eviction moratorium

Thursday, Sep 17, 2020

* Michael Puente at WBEZ

Chicago attorney Carol Oshana represents landlords who mostly “own just one building” to supplement their income.

These small landlords, which Oshana called “mom-and-pop shops,” also known as single-family rentals, make up about 34% of the estimated 45 million renter households in America, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

In the Chicago metropolitan area, as of 2018, single family rentals make up about 20% of the 1.3 million rental units, according to Joint Center for Housing Studies.

“My landlords are very desperate. They have [renters who] are working but don’t want to pay,” Oshana said. […]

“Tenants know big landlords will go after them and their credit. Small landlords can’t even afford lawyers,” Oshana said. “Also, big landlords don’t live in the building. Smaller landlords are harassed by their tenants who refuse to pay.”

..Adding… NBOA…

The Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance (NBOA) has been pointing out that we don’t ask grocery stores to provide free food, or pharmacies to provide free medication. We cannot ask the small businesses that provide neighborhood housing to provide free homes. That is jeopardizing their ability to continue providing stable housing, which is important for their residents and surrounding communities.

…Adding… Greg Hinz

In other news, at [yesterday’s] briefing, Pritzker extended the state’s moratorium on evictions for another 30 days, citing the COVID-weakened local economy.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

43 Comments
  1. - NIU Grad - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 12:48 pm:

    Yep, and Red Rose Twitter mocks them and tells them to “get real jobs”.

    I get it. There are bad landlords. But I don’t really see the alternative…do you want the government to take over housing and allocate it out? What could go wrong…


  2. - phenom_Anon - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 12:50 pm:

    This is the problem with blanket solutions for everyone. Everybody gets a check, everyone gets extra unemployment, everyone is protected from eviction. These ideas cause as many problems as they solve, and leave less resources to help those who truly need it.


  3. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 12:51 pm:

    “Smaller landlords are harassed by their tenants who refuse to pay.”

    As the long-time editor of Science magazine, Philip Abelson often said: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    – MrJM


  4. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 12:53 pm:

    “These ideas cause as many problems as they solve”

    Even if we accepted that this were true, not all problems are equal.

    Problems are matters of degree as well as quantity.

    – MrJM


  5. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 12:56 pm:

    = single family rentals make up about 20% of the 1.3 million rental units=

    Without steady rent payments, those properties will become rundown as the landlord will not be able to pay for routine maintmence.


  6. - Wow - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 12:59 pm:

    It’s what happens when the Gov plays to the crowd. He NEVER thinks about the small biz person.


  7. - Steve Rogers - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:01 pm:

    Yep. I used to own a rental house for extra income. I sold it several years ago. Mostly had good tenants–just one really bad tenant I had to sue to get back rent (and was successful). I can’t imagine trying to manage this house now, paying RE taxes, mortgage, and maintenance with the possibility of no rental income.


  8. - phenom_Anon - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:02 pm:

    =Even if we accepted that this were true, not all problems are equal.=

    Agree. And I understand the need to get something out quickly to help those in need, which means less time for vetting. But we’re 6 months in now. A blanket moratorium on evictions, regardless of ability to pay or need, should no longer be an acceptable approach. At some point you have to take a look at the people on the other side. Middle class people with a rental house, or a retired couple who bought a duplex and rent the other half out to pay for the place. The people who work for the landlords doing maintenance or cutting grass and need a paycheck. Tenants aren’t the only ones potentially in need.


  9. - Miso - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    The article is pretty clear many of the small landlords live in the same building as the errant renters.

    This is not extraordinary. Hardly. I mean, seriously? Abelson, btw, was speaking of proof of life on other planets, not harassment.


  10. - Just Another Anon - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    Remember when Bart Simpson released the bolivian tree lizards and everyone was happy when they ate all the pigeons? Only Lisa asked, “But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?”. The response, was, “No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.” “But aren’t the snakes even worse?” Lisa exclaimed. “Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.” relied Principal Skinner. “But then we’re stuck with gorillas!” shouted Lisa. “No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.” replied Skinner who served as an emblematic stand-in for middle level government employees throughout the series.


  11. - Quibbler - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:09 pm:

    == Do you want the government to take over housing and allocate it out? ==

    Literally yes. Public housing is not some novel or extreme idea.


  12. - 1st Ward - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:17 pm:

    CBS Chicago had an article on a landlord going homeless (living out of her car) due to tenants not paying or moving out.

    https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2020/09/16/a-state-order-to-prevent-homelessness-is-causing-it-for-some/


  13. - Benjamin - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:19 pm:

    It’s imprtant to remember that an eviction moratorium doesn’t mean the tenants get to live there for free. They’re still on the hook for the rent incurred while living there–for as long as they live there–they just can’t be forced out for nonpayment.

    I recognize this is a tough situation for small landlords (and, honestly, for large landlords, too). But there’s a pandemic going on, and sacrifices have to be made. It’s a lot easier to fix the problem of a few thousand landlords without incomes than it is tens or hundreds of thousands of homeless, jobless people at high risk of contracting COVID.


  14. - JS Mill - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:20 pm:

    I am not sure how widespread this issue is based off of the word of one attorney, but is something that I posted about a while back on the issue of a eviction moratorium. The big companies might be negatively impacted but nobody is going to lose their home. The mom and pop operations are different. Couldn’t They try to get the PPE money when it was available?

    Simply complaining in the media isn’t a real solution.


  15. - Hamlet's Ghost - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:22 pm:

    == Everybody gets a check, everyone gets extra unemployment, everyone is protected from eviction ==

    Eh, not enough people got a check, and extra unemployment was too skimpy with too much red tape and THEREFORE protection from eviction became necessary.


  16. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:26 pm:

    Benjamin
    Although the “moratorium doesn’t mean the tenants get to live there for free. They’re still on the hook for the rent incurred while living there–for as long as they live there” chances are if someone has a job and is not going to pay now will not pay when the moratorium is lifted. At that point they may just say I’m moving or go ahead and take me to eviction court which itself takes several months and with all the evictions that are going to occur will stretch out even longer.

    Also, if you are a lanlord and a tenant is not paying rent and you are responsible for their water, gas and electric beacuse there is only one meter and they are wasting one or all three and you have to see them everyday I can see that being a huge stress on the landlord.


  17. - BigLou - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:27 pm:

    Sorry, that was me at 1:26


  18. - fs - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:30 pm:

    == It’s imprtant to remember that an eviction moratorium doesn’t mean the tenants get to live there for free. They’re still on the hook for the rent incurred while living there–for as long as they live there–they just can’t be forced out for nonpayment.==

    Yeah, and all you’ll have to do is go through an extremely long process to collect through the court system, that in many cases will result in small wage deduction payments spread out over months or years. Meanwhile, the property owner is behind thousands and at risk of foreclosure. You understand the concept of mortgage payments, right? Property tax payments? Insurance payments? This is all setting up for a disaster of a housing market next year, that will affect everyone at some level. Buckle up.


  19. - 1st Ward - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:33 pm:

    “It’s imprtant to remember that an eviction moratorium doesn’t mean the tenants get to live there for free. They’re still on the hook for the rent incurred while living there–for as long as they live there–they just can’t be forced out for nonpayment”

    Do you know the recovery rates for unsecured lenders which is what the landlord is. The benefits of eviction is so the landlord only loses one or two months rent which may be supported by a security deposit. Try getting 6+ months rent from someone who is unemployed. The landlord probably isn’t the only one after them as well. To think people aren’t living for free given the duration of the moratorium is delusional.


  20. - concerned - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:39 pm:

    Will landlords not able to collect rent be required to pay property taxes?


  21. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:40 pm:

    Make the burden on everyone then. Have the city or state make checks out to tenants and landlords take the money from city or state budget then collect it back in taxes. It is totally unfair to make a small landlord provide free rent.
    have a landlord sign affidavit that rents being uncollected take tit to assessor or treasurer and give a credit for real estate taxes.
    So easy to make someone else pay.


  22. - Mr. Green Genes - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:42 pm:

    == They’re still on the hook for the rent incurred while living there–for as long as they live there” chances are if someone has a job and is not going to pay now will not pay when the moratorium is lifted.==
    They can be taken to court and their wages can be garnished.


  23. - fs - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:47 pm:

    == They can be taken to court and their wages can be garnished.==

    So they’ll be made whole sometime around 2050. Or the tenant is either “judgment proof” and can’t be garnished, or they file Chapter 7 and the landlord gets zilch as an unsecured creditor. Meanwhile, their property and income is gone, property tax revenue for schools goes down, and neighborhoods decline even more.


  24. - Mr. Green Genes - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:50 pm:

    == So they’ll be made whole sometime around 2050.==
    Do you know of this happening for 30 years? A link?


  25. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:52 pm:

    This is exactly right and exactly the point I’ve been making about the protests to “cancel rent.” The landlords are often mom and pop shops who own a couple of properties. But even for the larger landlords, their bills don’t stop just because their payments do. These things have a cascading effect and it’s not good.


  26. - S RuthJ - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 1:54 pm:

    First an ongoing blanket moratorium saying nobody has to pay their rent, and can live off other people even if they don’t even qualify for a Corona emergency, is ridiculous.
    That is REAL socialism. What does the government expect?

    Second there is no way most small landlords are ever going to see the months of unpaid rent money they lost during this event.
    Tenants are going to take off into the sunset and will continue to have no money, much less ‘extra’ to repay what is now considered bill collecting.

    Horribly managed mess. The gubmt should have just offered rent aid to Corona affected tenants to begin with, but require them to prove it. Many small landlords are likely going to go bankrupt and drop out if this keeps happening. THEN just like the game of Monopoly, watch rents go up in years to come when much fewer people own all the property….


  27. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 2:01 pm:

    === The gubmt should have just offered rent aid===

    Isn’t that a socialist idea?


  28. - SruthJ - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 2:13 pm:

    I don’t mind some of my tax money going to help people who lost their job due to a Corona emergency. Or for food stamps. For temporary situations, where the person qualifies. It already is. And no, I don’t consider that “Socialism”, at least the boogeyman kind.
    Forcing people to house citizens at their own expense, carte blanche pretty much is. In fact it comes pretty close to the same thing as forced quartering discussed in the 3rd Amendment.
    Just my opinion.


  29. - BigLou - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 2:33 pm:

    Building on 1st Ward’s comment, in Chicago if you take a security deposit as a landlord you owe interest at a rate pre-scribed by ordinance which rate is lower than banks pay and also if you do and screw up on paying the interest the tenant can sue you for multiples of the deposit, so many landlords don’t even take the deposit because. I even think I read something several years ago when the Chicago Association of Realtors warned landlords not to take security deposit because of the legal risk. Also, eviction takes way more than two months in cook which is ridiculously tenant friendly county even when the tenant is obviously in the worn. I have been in eviction court and saw a tenant tell the judge I just don’t want to pay the rent and the judge just schedule the next hearing date. I think in Indiana eviction takes like 3 weeks.


  30. - Merica - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 2:38 pm:

    The idea of the eviction freeze made sense in the beginning of the pandemic, for 4 months. Extending it is crazy. We haven’t even begun to feel the main effects of the economic
    downturn on the horizon. Inflation, a 50% decrease in stock values. That’s certain to happen. This moratorium will exacerbate this.


  31. - 1st Ward - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 2:51 pm:

    “Inflation, a 50% decrease in stock values. That’s certain to happen. This moratorium will exacerbate this.”

    an eviction moratorium is going to exacerbate stagflation which we have not seen since the 70’s? Do call me when mom and pop landlords crash the stock market with their thousands in retirement and brokerage accounts…. take the tin foil hat off.


  32. - Benjamin - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 2:56 pm:

    I think there’s a misconception that tenants are largely gaming the system and getting free housing through the duration of the moratorium. I sincerely doubt that, given my own personal experience.

    I work in apartment real estate development (though none of our properties are in Illinois) and we have a sister company that manages apartments. They’re all affordable housing, meaning the tenants are disproportionately blue collar workers at high risk of being furloughed or laid off. Even when work is slack, most people prioritize making their rent payments if they at all can–both because of pride and because going through an eviction is going to make it hard for them to get another apartment in the future.

    I feel for these small landlords, I do, but this is an emergency. Don’t you know there’s a pandemic on?


  33. - City Zen - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 3:06 pm:

    If local governments can accept a reduction in property tax revenue, if landlords can accept less rental revenue, and if renters can accept they’re going to owe some portion of back rent, maybe we can find a middle ground.

    Too bad there is no middle ground.


  34. - Quibbler - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 3:10 pm:

    I wonder if all those whose hearts are bleeding for the poor landlords have considered the consequences of allowing the moratorium to expire, which will spike homelessness to historic levels in this country. You’re worried about crime now? Looting? Protests? COVID spread? Further strains on our already tattered social safety net? Unemployment? The social and psychological impact of the general misery that is American life in 2020? Go ahead and put tens or hundreds of thousands more people on the street, and see how much worse all those problems get.


  35. - City Zen - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 3:12 pm:

    ==But even for the larger landlords, their bills don’t stop just because their payments do.==

    I looked up one of the larger Chicago landlords that was one of the targets in the cancel rent commotion. Their front and back office employees are mostly women of color. The only white males were in charge of maintenance, probably the last position a landlord would layoff.


  36. - IlliniLaw - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 3:20 pm:

    ==In fact it comes pretty close to the same thing as forced quartering discussed in the 3rd Amendment.==

    I’ve seen the 3rd amendment brought up on the dumber circles of conservative thought on Twitter. Here’s the text of the 3rd Amendment, which has absolutely zero application to an eviction moratorium:

    “No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”


  37. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 3:40 pm:

    “The article is pretty clear many of the small landlords live in the same building as the errant renters. This is not extraordinary. Hardly. I mean, seriously?”

    Then a smart person might infer that that wasn’t the part of the harassment claim that I believe to be extraordinary, huh?

    – MrJM


  38. - Denise - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 3:43 pm:

    Benjamin you clearly don’t own any real estate.


  39. - JB13 - Thursday, Sep 17, 20 @ 4:35 pm:

    – But there’s a pandemic going on, and sacrifices have to be made –

    … by someone who is not me, amirite?


  40. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Friday, Sep 18, 20 @ 12:36 am:

    This is a terrible burden on small landlords. No one else is being forced to offer products or services for free. These rent checks are the primary income for many small owners.


  41. - Mr Green Genes - Friday, Sep 18, 20 @ 12:52 pm:

    == This is a terrible burden on small landlords. No one else is being forced to offer products or services for free. These rent checks are the primary income for many small owners.==
    Landlords aren’t forced to offer anything for free. They are still entitled to their money since the lease is an enforceable contract.


  42. - Benjamin - Friday, Sep 18, 20 @ 2:42 pm:

    @Denise: As I mentioend, I work in apartment real estate development and we have a sister company that manages apartments. I don’t own the buildings personally, but I have worked with the property managers to make sure that the buildings are performing well and rents are being paid on time. I’m giving you professional insight from the inside of the real estate industry. You ignore it out your peril.

    @JB13: we’re all being asked to sacrifice something.


  43. - Adam - Tuesday, Oct 6, 20 @ 12:27 pm:

    I have a tenant in Peoria who does not respond to text, phone calls and just have not paid in 2 months. My lawyer said there is nothing I can do at this point. This is crazy.


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