Today I met with a small landlord who owns a few rental properties. She is at her wits end because she can’t evict, and she has tenants who are choosing to not work, and choosing to not pay rent. Able bodied person, young, just doesn’t work, and can’t explain why. Another small landlord I know has a tenant who works, makes low 6 figures, still refuses to pay rent, and has even threatened her and her property manager. Doesn’t matter. Can’t evict. For any reason.
The mask mandates are falling off, media attention is turning to major events abroad, and the City of Oakland, if you call their numbers, still say offices are closed due to the shelter in place order. They are closed because of the pandemic. They are closed because of the local emergency. What local emergency are they talking about at this point?
Ok, before you call me out, no, I am not an epidemiologist. I did work for an epidemiologist for a while at UCSF during and after graduate school.
Oh. That doesn’t count?
Ok. I will stick to talking about the eviction moratorium, because while I don’t know a whole lot about disease pathology, I do know real estate.
The Alameda County Eviction Moratorium is Expiring Soon, Right?
Many people seem to think the Alameda County or City of Oakland moratoriums are ending March 31, 2022, "60 Days after January 1, 2022" or even "60 Days After March 31, 2022." This is incorrect. It is set to expire "60 Day After the Local Emergency Ends." "What is the local emergency," you ask? I don’t know if anyone knows. "When will this emergency end?" Nobody knows. We can guess sometime in 2022. Maybe.
Where Does that Leave Housing Providers?
Still in limbo after almost two years, with no ability to remove tenants who are disruptive, not complying with lease terms, denying access, refusing to seek rental assistance, or even those who have no rental agreement with the owner and no consent to be in the property. Even eviction matters that were started prior to March 2020, or where a lock-out had been scheduled, and where unpaid rents have astronomically ballooned to $50,000 - $80,000, remain idle, leaving landlords in financial dire straits.
Alameda’s mask mandate ended last week. Numbers for coronavirus are down across the board for everyone, and hospitalizations are way down. Mask mandates are ending, even in school settings.
While a dramatic few are screaming that an end to mask mandates is “sending people to their deaths!”
Businesses are open and thriving, restaurants are operating at full capacity, even gyms are dropping mask mandates and have been open for months.
On February 4th I wrote about the unintended consequences of public policy. Oakland has become famous for its already overwhelmingly massive homeless population (topping 4000, greater than the entire population of Guerneville). What will happen when thousands of people are evicted? Is there a reason that able-bodied people can’t work right now because of covid?
Keeping an across-the-board eviction moratorium going with claims that there is a “local emergency” related to a pandemic while mask mandates are dropped seems illogical. To be clear, you don’t have to qualify for the moratorium. You can work. You can airbnb your spare bedroom. You can do what you want. But you can’t get evicted.
Nobody knows what the end result will be when the moratorium is lifted, but it is not going to be pretty.
Sources: Alan Horowitz, Attorney at law & Bay City News Service