Jun 05

As a rental property owner, it is in your self interest to work with the renter, secure Emergency Housing Assistance, and get the back rent paid.  If you evict, you no longer will be able to recover the unpaid rent through these programs.  

Only 7/10th of 1% of eviction judgments are paid within the first year, over five years that number is only 2.4%.   Smart money says, encourage your nonpaying renters to apply for Community Advocates or SDC ERAP funds. 

Rental Assistance Process | How to Apply for Rent Assistance | Community Advocates in Milwaukee WIor
Milwaukee Emergency Rental Assistance | Social Development Commission

There is an upside though to the moratorium ending, whether that end is next week or in three weeks, in that eviction, or the threat of eviction can be used to compel renters who refuse to apply for aid to do so.  Of course, there are also a few renters who are not paying and do not qualify for assistance because they have not been financially impacted by the COVID financial crisis. 

https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/03/politics/supreme-court-realtors-eviction-moratorium/index.html

The Realtor groups asked the justices to step in — on an emergency basis — arguing that “Congress never gave the CDC the staggering amount of power it now claims.”

They argue that the moratorium has resulted in “over $13 billion in unpaid rent per month.”

May 06

Evicting is so 2019.

You want the rent paid. The partners at the Rental Housing Resource Center have the resources to help your residents pay the rent. My company, Affordable Rental Associates, LLC, has adopted a mediation first policy as an alternative to eviction for a year now, with great success. Renters become current and do not move far more often than the court alternative.

If you are on the fence, look at how much that last eviction cost you in lost rent, repairs, court costs, time and aggravation. When it is all over, statistically you will collect less than 2.7% of your eviction judgment amounts over the next five years.

If you have questions, ask here, or email me directly.

Apr 09

HT Tristan Pettit

This WaPo article is a good read, should read piece. The bottom line is if the rent is paid evictions for nonpayment stop, eliminating the need for moratoriums.

There was a need for stopgap measures at the beginning. Today everyone would be best served by effectively using the money that is currently available to pay for the housing of people who truly are in need.

The idea is to get the money to renters before courts nationwide begin processing evictions again.

“We are running the Emergency Rental Assistance Program every day like we’re going to lose the moratorium tomorrow,” said a Treasury Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the program before any formal announcements.

Washington Post The $50 billion race to save America’s renters from eviction

Mar 07

The article linked below is so wrongly anti-housing provider. If the rent is paid, the need for free legal representation disappears in most cases. Discriminatory housing policies are not those of the property owners. We want our houses full as that is the only way we make money. Instead, for the most part, discriminatory housing policies were created years ago through government programs. But now, we are being made the scapegoat by the very governmental bodies that created this mess. 

Redlining of mortgages and insurance, leading to housing segregation or worse? These were federal government-mandated rules. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlining

But articles like the one below try to paint property owners and managers as the causation. The truth is housing and renters must succeed for the other to succeed as well. We are two sides of the same coin. There are those who profit from encouraging conflict between owners and renters. This harms both residents and housing providers alike.

Contrary to the conclusion of the article, rental assistance is the solution. If the U.S. enacted a FoodShare for Housing program, where people below a certain threshold would receive portable housing vouchers, this would change many urban American problems. Multiple studies show the costs of such a program to the taxpayer are less than what we now pay for intervention when renters fail. 

Addressing extreme housing precarity requires more than rental assistance; it requires an overhaul of the system and redress of the longstanding discriminatory housing policies that led to this moment.

https://theappeal.org/the-lab/explainers/the-american-eviction-crisis-explained/
Feb 22

[Thank you to Joe Murray for the research]

First, let me preface this that in general, I feel that Governor Evers has done well in the distribution of housing aid during the pandemic.

However, his proposed budget has a number of concerning provisions.  And how the heck does Wisconsin allows laws unrelated to spending to be part of a budget is well beyond me.

  • If passed, municipalities will be able to restrict how you screen, what you can charge, prohibit showing occupied units, making certain you lose a month or more between tenants, limit charging for damages, limit or prohibit security deposits and allow for rent abatement for minor issues.  
  • If passed municipalities will also be able to enact their own eviction moratoriums.
  • If passed, you will be inhibited from evicting for criminal activity. That should make other renters and neighbors feel safe — Not!  
  • If passed you can be required to disclose code violations “regardless of whether the landlord has actual knowledge of the violation

Actual details are below.  
—————————— 
Local landlord-tenant ordinances

Current law prohibits political subdivisions from enacting certain ordinances relating to landlords and tenants. Political subdivisions may not do any of the following:

1. Prohibit or limit landlords from obtaining or using certain information relating to a tenant or prospective tenant, including monthly household income, occupation, rental history, credit information, court records, and social security numbers.

2. Limit how far back in time a landlord may look at a prospective tenant’s credit information, conviction record, or previous housing.

3. Prohibit or limit a landlord from entering into a rental agreement with a prospective tenant while the premises are occupied by a current tenant.

4. Prohibit or limit a landlord from showing a premises to a prospective tenant during a current tenant’s tenancy.

5. Place requirements on a landlord with respect to security deposits or earnest money or inspections that are in addition to what is required under administrative rules.

6. Limit a tenant’s responsibility for any damage to or neglect of the premises.

7. Require a landlord to provide any information to tenants or to the local government any information that is not required to be provided under federal or state law.

8. Require a residential property to be inspected except under certain circumstances.

9. Impose an occupancy or transfer of tenancy fee on a rental unit.

10. Current law also prohibits political subdivisions from regulating rent abatement in a way that permits abatement for conditions other than those that materially affect the health or safety of the tenant or that substantially affect the use and occupancy of the premises. 

The budget bill eliminates all of these prohibitions.

Local moratorium on evictions

Current law prohibits political subdivisions from imposing a moratorium on landlords from pursuing evictions actions against a tenant. 

The budget bill eliminates that prohibition.

Notification of building code violations

Under current law, before entering into a lease with or accepting any earnest money or a security deposit from a prospective tenant, a landlord must disclose to the prospective tenant any building code or housing code violations of which the landlord has actual knowledge if the violation presents a significant threat to the prospective tenant’s health or safety. The bill eliminates the condition that the landlord have actual knowledge of such a violation and that the threat to the prospective tenant’s health or safety be “significant”; under the bill, the landlord must disclose to a prospective tenant a building code or housing code violation, regardless of whether the landlord has actual knowledge of the violation, if the violation presents a threat to the prospective tenant’s health or safety.

The budget bill eliminates these provisions.

Terminating a tenancy on the basis of criminal activity

Current law allows a landlord, upon providing notice to a tenant, to terminate the tenant’s tenancy, without an opportunity to cure the tenant’s default, if the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household, or a guest of the tenant 1) engages in any criminal activity that threatens the health or safety of other tenants, persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the premises, or the landlord; 2) engages in any criminal activity that threatens the right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other tenants or persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the premises; or 3) engages in any drug-related criminal activity on or near the premises. 

The budget bill eliminates these provisions.

Dec 20

How do landlords think unemployed people will pay rent?:

…an average of 8% of renters don’t pay rent in normal times. During the coronavirus crisis to date, that share has gone up to 15 to 20% of renters not paying.

“But generally, I think we need a better approach instead of just pitting owners versus tenants,” he says. Both the tenants and landlords need some larger, holistic fix from the government that acknowledges that there just isn’t as much money flowing through the system as there should be.

Nearly 12 million renters will owe an average of $5,850 in back rent and utilities by January, Moody’s Analytics warns. Last month, 9 million renters said they were behind on rent, according to a Census Bureau survey.   

The over $70 Billion in unpaid rent, as reported by Moody’s will cripple many housing providers and will cause a housing crisis that will impact both tenants and municipalities for years, if not decades.  In May of 2020 Milwaukee property values finally recovered from the 2008 Great Recession. 

Less than 2.5% of rent judgments are paid in Milwaukee County five years after the eviction.  And eviction judgments represent only a small fraction of the unpaid rent.  In surveying owners, we see on a high end 42% of their lost rent is included in eviction judgments, with most owners reporting less than 10%.  Some owners never pursue money judgments. So the million dollars a month in eviction judgments represent somewhere between $28.5 million to $100 million a year in money that should go into housing but does not.  I peg the number at least to be $48 Million a year in lost rent in one county.  This is just insane. 

The right answer is for the government to step up to the plate and create a portable housing voucher to cover a portion, to all, of the rent /housing costs for people below a certain income, similar to food stamps.

Instead, the government pits tenants against landlords in a zero-sum game where one must lose for the other to win. In the end, this makes housing more expensive or limits choices.

This has been a problem long before COVID. In 1991 I was interviewed by the New York Times on evictions. I asked the reporter, “On $574 a month, how do you buy tennis shoes for the kids, clean shirts for school, and still pay your rent?” Nothing has changed much since then. $574 was the AFDC (now W2) payment amount. Twenty years later in an NYT interview, my comment was basically the same:

“On $673 a month, how do you buy tennis shoes for the kids, clean shirts for school and still pay your rent?” Mr. Ballering said.” 
https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/us/19evict.html 

Some suggest canceling mortgages and rents, thinking that this equivalent and will prevent the economic failure of housing.  Sadly, it will not.

The average mortgage payment is 36-39% of gross income. The average owner earns 7-9% of gross income for their investment of capital, financial risks, and physical efforts.  If you stop mortgage and rent payments, as well as prevent owners from being paid for their investment and efforts, there is still 52-57% of gross rent that is needed to cover other operating costs such as sewer, water, property taxes, maintenance, insurance, etc.

In Milwaukee, for most properties, the City takes a far bigger cut of the rent in property taxes, and sewer/water bills, than the owner gets to keep.

If you read the Brookings report, you will see this plus the “local economic multiplier” effect of wages and other monies expended by owners.

The Census Bureau reported in 2018 that, on average, every unit generates almost $1,200 in wages. Those wages, the property tax money, etc, circulate throughout the community many times over.

Here’s what scholars believe will happen if there is a moratorium without rental assistance; https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3641859 It goes into the economic impact on housing and the cost borne by other current and future tenants. It is an informative read.

Dec 08

Before the COVID crisis, I was unaware that pre-filing eviction mediation was an option and only vaguely aware that mediation was an option during an eviction case. Many of our evictions resulted in stipulated dismissals, as do 46% of the evictions in Milwaukee County.

We learned of Mediate Milwaukee simultaneously through the Apartment Association’s collaborative work with Community Advocates, Legal Aid, and Legal Action; as well as my staff researching information for our tenant resource page at apartmentsmilwaukee.com/r/

Near the end of the moratorium, my company tried Mediate Milwaukee with two tenants that were three or more months behind in rent.

The resulting agreements were similar to what we would have accepted in a stipulated dismissal, with the added benefit of someone knowledgeable being there to help the tenant navigate funding options and assistance applications.

Based on our initial positive results, Affordable Rental Associates implemented a new internal policy. Before filing an eviction for non-payment, we refer the tenants to Mediate Milwaukee. Mediation first is now a standard business practice and will continue beyond the COVID crisis and moratoriums.

Pre-filing mediation benefits everyone. 

  • Tenants avoid having an eviction on their record, often with similar or more extended payment agreements than they would receive in a stipulated dismissal. 
  • Landlords benefit as they avoid the cost of eviction, and tenants who work with Mediate can better navigate funding options that allow them to stay in the unit, avoiding vacancies and rerenting costs to owners. 
  • The Court benefits by a reduction in caseload, many of which are ultimately settled by stipulation.
  • We all benefit from the reduction in conflict. It was pleasantly surprising that some previously rude tenants became polite to my staff during mediation.
  • Plus, tenants and owners who enter into mediation will avoid the need to debate in Court whether a CDC declaration is factual.
  • Where needed, we have utilized Mediate Milwaukee to re-engage with tenants when issues arise with compliance with an agreement, often stabilizing the situation.

If mediation is explored early in the delinquency, there is little to no downside for the property owner. There are also, albeit lesser, benefits to both parties with post-filing mediation. Nonetheless, it can often result in a continued tenancy or at least a more agreeable move-out. While court-connected mediation will continue to be of value to all parties, the real opportunity for change is to promote pre-filing mediation as the first option to eviction for the Milwaukee rental owner community. It could cause a paradigm shift for the benefit of all. 

The Apartment Association of Southeastern WI, which I’ve been a board member of for over three decades, has become a strong proponent of mediation benefits. We had a general membership meeting on October 1st to encourage owners to try mediation as an alternative to eviction.

There have also been many recent articles on the use of mediation for eviction prevention in other communities. One that I found interesting was https://citymonitor.ai/housing/what-is-eviction-mediation

Nov 07

https://www.greaterohio.org/publications/2020/11/4/local-interventions-for-eviction-prevention-and-why-they-are-needed

The Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) has released Local Interventions for Eviction Prevention and Why They Are Needed, a guide for laying the groundwork to support Ohio renters and prevent evictions related to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Experts anticipate a tsunami of evictions to begin in January 2021. Given the limited state dollars available and the uncertainty of additional federal dollars, local governments must take the lead to protect their residents. This Working Paper profiles interventions from around the state in order to provide ideas and templates for communities that need housing stabilization programming.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59396fee59cc6877bacf5ab5/t/5fa3267c92abc63d53774755/1604527743492/Local+Rent+Assistance+Working+Paper.pdf

Some interesting concepts.  One is Pay and Stay, which I would support:

Community Spotlight: Pay to Stay Ordinance, Village of Yellow Springs Under “Pay to Stay,” a landlord is obligated to accept back rent (including reasonable late fees and court costs) up to the point where the bailiff is knocking on the door to begin physically removing tenants’ belongings. Pay to stay prevents a landlord from evicting a tenant where the tenant can pay back rent and reasonable late fees prior to the eviction judgment. If the eviction has been granted, the tenant can stop the eviction by paying back rent, reasonable late fees and court costs.

Nov 06

Featuring: How To Navigate Eviction Moratoriums

We are excited to announce Attorney Tristan Pettit’s Landlord Boot Camp will be held on November 14th, 2020. 

Due to recent changes impacting the CDC National Eviction Moratorium, we delayed the event to include the most timely information on navigating the current Moratoriums. 

The Saturday, November 14th event will be held as a live-streamed webinar from 8:30 AM -5:00 PM with live Q & A from 5-6 PM. 

Enjoy these advantages of the new virtual format:

  • Attendees will receive a searchable PDF Boot Camp manual, making it easier to search and reference items in the future.
  • A recording will be available to attendees for 14 days after the event to re-watch portions that you want a deeper understanding of.
  • Attend the event from the comfort and safety of your home. 
  • As in prior Boot Camps, the live Q & A session is part of this event.
  • You will receive all of the same information normally presented in Landlord Boot Camp PLUS the latest information on navigating the CDC and CARES Act eviction moratoriums. 

For pricing and registration click here:  

https://aasew.org/event-4043452

www.aasew.org

Oct 07

These are the reasons we need to unify as an industry.  Read the full, well-written piece at:

https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-landlords-are-people-too-20201007-zqsmvkptgjcyjkzbmwojhh7r7y-story.html

“Landlords are the devil incarnate. “F–k landlords.” “Cancel rent.” “Kill the landlords. “Landlord (sic) are a disease.” These inflammatory words come from social media postings, but it is not unusual to hear them at the protests and riots that have become routine in recent months. In addition, there have been marches specifically crafted to promote the rent-strike movement — a movement that suggests a tenant, even when she has the ability to pay, may choose instead to withhold the money and place the funds in a shared escrow account. Small business owner, Roni von Henschen says, “I know people who aren’t paying even though they can afford it. I don’t know why. Maybe they figure they can live month after month for free since evictions are banned.”

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