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Trump's eviction moratorium hasn’t prevented a wave of evictions: report

Grungy Old Door With A Yellow Eviction Notice Shutterstock/ Mr Doomits

While some Americans have maintained their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, others have been unemployed for months and are struggling to pay their rent — especially as the expanded unemployment benefits of the CARES Act expired. In a swirl of panic about the economic crisis the pandemic continues to fuel, President Donald Trump’s administration, announced a moratorium on evictions earlier this month.

But a surge in evictions occurred after the announcement, according to Bloomberg News.

Patrick Clark and Prashant Gopal of Bloomberg News, using data reported by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, note that “institutional landlords filed more than 900 eviction cases across eight metropolitan areas from September 2 to September 8” — and that landlords “filed 165 cases in the same markets during the week of August 3.”

Jim Baker, executive director of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, told Bloomberg News, “We’re quite surprised by the number of filings we saw. What’s striking is that we’re not talking about mom-and-pop landlords. We’re talking about gigantic companies.”

In their article, Clark and Gopal draw a distinction between mom-and-pop landlords and “institutional landlords,” which they describe as “those that own thousands of units.” Examples of institutional landlords, according to the Blomberg reporters, range from “industry giants Starwood Capital Group and Invitation Homes, Inc.” to “lesser-known companies like Onni Group, a Vancouver-based developer that manages more than 7200 apartments.” Invitation owns roughly 80,000 single-family rental houses.

Clark and Gopal explain, “Tenants who complete necessary paperwork should be protected by the moratorium, but that leaves a big hole if they’re not aware of the legal steps required to get protection — and very few have lawyers to help.”

Peter Hepburn, a researcher for Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, told Bloomberg that while some landlords might have been aware of the eviction moratorium, others “might have been hoping that they could get under the wire, or that the local courts might take a landlord-friendly approach to enforcement.” And John Pollock, coordinator for the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, noted that tenants have to fill out a form in order to receive protection from eviction under the moratorium.

“The moratorium is obviously a good thing, and it’s going to help people if they know it exists,” Pollock told Bloomberg News. “But they have to learn the thing exists, get a copy, fill it out properly and get it to their landlord before the landlord rams an eviction through the court.”

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