As more and more tenants are forced to leave their rental homes, the motives and tactics behind increased evictions have come into question.
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide eviction moratorium expired in August 2021, eviction rates in several states have been approaching or even exceeding pre-pandemic averages, according to state officials and data from the Eviction Lab – a Princeton University-based think tank dedicated to researching housing and displacement in the US.
One such example is Travis County, TX, home to the state capital of Austin, where county staff reported that eviction filings shot up to as high as 70% and 40% above historical averages in March and April respectively – right when local eviction protections ended.
Soaring rent prices contribute to this ongoing issue. According to a June 2022 rental report from Realtor.com, Austin is experiencing one of the highest rent spikes in the country: 24% since June 2021, pushing median rent for one-bedroom apartments to $1,720. One-bedroom units in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metro area in Florida are going for $1,833, an increase of 23%.
Diane Yental, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, informed a panel of senators that “the average US minimum-wage worker would need to clock in… 79 hours a week to afford the rent of a one-bedroom home at the fair market rate.”
Consequently, commissioners in Orlando’s Orange County voted to add a proposed rental cap to their November ballot, and Travis County approved funding for legal representation for people facing evictions.
Between skyrocketing rent, stagnant wages, and local COVID-19 rental aid programs either closing down or not showing up, even tenants in good standing feel more vulnerable to homelessness than ever. Property managers and landlords have their legitimate reasons for evicting certain tenants, but a few bad actors risk discrediting them by using abusive tactics.
The House of Representatives’ Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis published a report in July detailing their investigation into four corporate landlords – Siegel Group, Pretium Partners, Ventron Management, and the nation’s largest owner of single-family rentals, Invitation Homes – that collectively filed nearly 15,000 eviction notices between March 2020 and July 2021.
The report claims the four firms took advantage of tenants’ fear during the height of the pandemic and deliberately misinformed them of their protections under the moratorium.
The firms were also found to have “engaged in deceptive and potentially unlawful practices… to push tenants out of their apartments.” One Siegel executive reportedly strategized replacing functional air conditioners with broken units, and falsely reporting child abuse to Child Protective Services.
Negative press surrounding the eviction crisis need not affect compliant property management companies and their owners, who treat eviction as a last resort. With proactive arrears management, property managers can appropriately handle potentially delinquent tenants before eviction is even on the table.
PayProp allows property managers to regularly supervise tenants’ payment activity, offer them convenient ways to pay on time, use system-provided letter templates to keep landlords up to date with evolving landlord-tenant laws, and more to reduce arrears and maintain their upstanding reputation. Find out more here.
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