Eviction filings by big U.S. landlords surged after President Trump issued ban

By Patrick Clark and Prashant Gopal |
Bloomberg

Big landlords increased the number of eviction cases they filed
after President Donald Trump announced his recent moratorium,
signaling the struggle tenants face getting protection from the
federal order.

Institutional landlords filed more than 900 eviction cases
across eight metropolitan areas from Sept. 2 to Sept. 8, according
to data compiled by�Private Equity Stakeholder Project, an activist
group partly funded by organized labor. Landlords filed 165 cases
in the same markets during the week of Aug. 3.

Fears of an evictions crisis have swirled since expanded
unemployment benefits and an original moratorium included in the
federal CARES Act expired, with advocates worrying that millions of
Americans will lose their homes.

The Trump ban, enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention to avert homelessness during a pandemic, was seen by
tenant advocates as a way to delay evictions. But it provides no
funding to cover unpaid rent, putting both landlords and tenants at
risk and making it difficult to avert a rental crisis.

“We’re quite surprised by the number of filings we saw,â€
Jim Baker, executive director at the Private Equity Shareholder
Project, said in an interview. “What’s striking is that we’re
not talking about mom-and-pop landlords. We’re talking about
gigantic companies.â€

Big hole

A wide range of institutional landlords, defined as those that
own thousands of units, brought eviction cases during the first
week of September. That includes industry giants Starwood Capital
Group and Invitation Homes and lesser-known companies like Onni
Group, a Vancouver-based developer that manages more than 7,200
apartments.

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.

Baker’s organization started compiling eviction data in April
to determine whether landlords were complying with the original
moratorium, which was limited to buildings with federally backed
financing.

Evictions surge

The research covers 10 large counties covering parts of Atlanta,
Houston, Phoenix and five other large metro areas, offering a
glimpse into how landlords proceeded in the week after the
moratorium was announced on Sept 1. Baker wasn’t expecting to see
a jump in evictions because Trump’s new ban goes beyond the old
one and applies to all rental buildings.

In more than half of the 17 cities tracked by Princeton
University’s Eviction Lab, cases filed by landlords of all sizes
surged after the CARES Act moratorium effectively expired Aug. 24,
said Peter Hepburn, a research fellow for the group.

While some building owners may not have been aware of the new
tenant protections, 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,†Hepburn said.

More cases

Baker’s research shows eviction cases were still being brought
to court Sept. 8, when Invitation Homes, which owns roughly 80,000
single-family rental houses, filed three cases.

“We have been doing what the CDC order directs since early in
the pandemic – working with our residents facing COVID-related
financial hardships and offering a variety of payment options so
they can stay in their homes,†the company said in a statement.
“As always, we will continue to follow all government
directives.â€

Starwood Capital and Onni Group didn’t respond to requests for
comment.

Related Articles

The increase in evictions during the first week of September
highlights key challenges to implementing the ban, according to
John Pollock, coordinator for the National Coalition for a Civil
Right to Counsel, an organization that seeks to establish a right
to legal representation for defendants in housing court.

One problem, he said, is the form tenants have to fill out to
get protection, attesting that they’re eligible.

“The moratorium is obviously a good thing and it’s going to
help people if they know it exists,†he said. “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.â€

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Eviction filings by big U.S. landlords surged after
President Trump issued ban