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.”

Oct 05
Office of Governor Tony EversFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 5, 2020Contact: GovPress@wisconsin.gov or 608-219-7443 Gov. Evers Announces nearly $50 million in COVID-19 Support for Wisconsinites  $47 million includes support for child care, healthcare navigators, food security, and energy and rental assistance MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today an additional $47 million investment in COVID-19 support for child care, healthcare navigators, and energy and rental assistance to Wisconsinites across the state. The effort is funded through the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and will be infused into existing CRF-funded programs and used for new programs as the pandemic continues to affect Wisconsinites.   “As we continue to fight this pandemic across our state, we need to make sure folks have the support they need from housing and food security, to making sure they have access to quality, affordable healthcare,” said Gov. Evers. “The investment announced today will provide critically important assistance for Wisconsinites as we continue to encourage folks to stay home as much as possible.”  $10 million will be directed towards the COVID-19 Out-of-School Support Grant Program aimed at assisting Wisconsin organizations who are providing care to school-aged kids during the pandemic. Administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA), the program provides eligible organizations grant awards to cover pandemic-related impacts such as lost revenue, increased staffing costs, cleaning and sanitization, and additional costs to ensure high-quality programming otherwise impacted by COVID-19.  “Our out-of-school support providers are a critical part of the team of entities ensuring Wisconsin kids are getting what they need, whether their traditional school setting is in-person or virtual this year,” Gov. Evers continued. “What’s best for our kids it what’s best for our state, and these organizations are stepping up in a big way to make sure our kids have a safe place to go during this unprecedented pandemic.”  With winter on the horizon and as temperatures drop, making sure Wisconsinites have access to safe, warm housing is critical. $10 million will be invested in the successful Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program (WRAP), in addition to the $25 million previously announced. To date, WRAP has helped nearly 10,000 households across the state as of October 5th. Additionally, $10 million will go toward the Food Security Initiative in recognition of the role the program has played in combatting hunger. This investment is on top of the $15 million previously allocated to this program. 

To ensure Wisconsinites not only have access to housing but can pay their utility bills as we head into the winter months, $15 million of the funds will be invested in Wisconsin’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a program that is currently federally-funded and helps Wisconsinites with their heating costs. Interested individuals can visit homeenergyplus.wi.gov/ or call 1-866-HEATWIS for application and program details. An additional $1 million investment will be directed towards the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund (KWW/CF), a non-profit that provides a statewide safety net to individuals facing energy-related emergencies. Interested individuals can visit kwwf.org/apply to learn more about the KWW/CF application and process.  

Finally, ensuring everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare continues to be a top priority, especially as COVID-19 surges across our state. Given the increasing number of Wisconsinites facing unemployment and the loss of employer-sponsored health insurance during the pandemic, $1 million will be invested in the statewide health insurance navigator organization to help residents purchase health insurance on the federal marketplace or to enroll in BadgerCare. For many Wisconsinites, this may be their first time selecting a plan on the exchange, which can be a complicated process. This funding will help increase consumer education and access to healthcare navigators who can walk individuals through the process of selecting and purchasing an individual or family plan or in enrolling for BadgerCare if they are eligible. Wisconsinites can learn more about their health insurance options at WisCovered.com.   ###Gold Horizontal LineOffice of the Governor ♦ 115 East Capitol, Madison, WI 53702Press Office: (608) 219-7443 ♦ Email: GovPress@wisconsin.govhttps://evers.wi.gov ♦ 
Oct 04


https://assets.aspeninstitute.org/content/uploads/2020/08/Evictions-Data-Update-August.pdf

  • Providing shelter and services to a family experiencing homelessness can cost local governments $10,000,[1] which is more than the $9,120 average annual cost of one housing voucher to the federal government[2] 
  1. Evans, William, James Sullivan, and Melanie Wallskog. “The Impact of Homelessness Prevention on Homelessness.” Science, 333:6300 694–6999, 2016. https://science.sciencemag.org/ content/353/6300/694.full.
  2. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Snapshot of Housing Choice Vouchers, 2016,” June 2018, https://www.huduser.gov/portal/elist/2018-june_08.html
Sep 23

I will respectfully submit that it is in the tenants’ best interest to allow Small Claims Court to hear disputes regarding potentially improperly filed CDC Declarations.

If owners are deprived of their right to challenge the validity of the declaration in civil court, the alternative is the use of the criminal justice system to pursue perjury charges, as contained in the CDC order. Remembering that the Declaration signed by the tenant begins and ends with an acknowledgment of criminal penalties:

I certify under penalty of perjury, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746, that the foregoing are true and correct:

I understand that any false or misleading statements or omissions may result in criminal and civil actions for fines, penalties, damages, or imprisonment.

While on the surface it may appear unlikely law enforcement will get involved,  Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 781 and 783 provide for extraordinary remedies to compel officeholders to comply with the law.

So far my company has received one CDC declaration.  It is from a tenant on SSI (no job to lose or medical expenses to pay).  We have not received a WRAP or Community Advocates assistance application to sign.  So clearly this is at a minimum, defective and likely fraudulent. 

The Law of Unintended Consequences.

Back 20 years ago or so (I show it as April 2001)  Legal Action of Milwaukee successfully argued that properties held in LLCs had to be represented by an attorney in eviction actions.  This was successful at stalling a number of evictions the month or so surrounding the court’s decision, as owners scrambled to hire attorneys.  

Owners did not want attorneys.  This was an added cost to cases that there was little chance of recovering the unpaid rent, in a fairly low margin industry.

Tenants were harmed by this as the dynamic shifted from unrepresented landlords facing tenants with Legal Aid/Legal Action attorneys, to many landlords being required to have attorneys.  The added cost to the evictions made it harder for owners to work out deals with tenants and ultimately more expensive for the tenant.  

It also often resulted in the owner not being at the hearing, why spend half a day in court if I’m paying a guy in a suit and tie to do it for me, making it less likely a deal would be struck.  In the years prior to the ruling, most owners looked like Monty Hall filling stips and negotiating with tenants.  http://emmyonline.com/the-master-deal-maker-monty-hall

MHDealPromo5x7-300x243.jpg

Even though the law changed a couple of years ago, most impacted owners still use attorneys because this shifted their standard operating procedure to use attorneys. 

Of course, the best course for owners and occupants alike, is for additional rental assistance funding.

Sep 12


https://shepherdexpress.com/news/features/the-new-eviction-moratorium-is-half-the-solution-but-is-it-e/#/questions

This issue will affect both parties. Heiner Giese, an attorney with Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin (AASEW) says, “The question is, how are these people going to get paid? Will people lose their housing? What will landlords do in the meantime about municipal water bills, taxes, insurance or maintenance.”

Sep 12

https://oklahoman.com/article/5671376/analysis-eviction-moratorium-will-compound-problems-housing-industry-leaders-say

It’s hard to hear it above the din, but the renter eviction moratorium has housing trade groups and nonprofits sounding an alarm.

“Rental assistance is necessary to pull the country back from the brink of a housing and financial crisis,” according to groups calling on Congress to step in that include the National Association of Realtors, National Association of Home Builders, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Affordable Housing Management Association, National Multifamily Housing Council, National Association of Housing Cooperatives, National Apartment Association and others.

The devil is in the details of this road paved with good intentions.

“This is fluid right now and seems to be changing frequently. It sounds great to keep people in their homes, but making the total rents due Jan. 1, and allowing fees and interest (if it is in the lease) is setting people up to fail. That combined with the people (landlords) not able to pay the mortgage without the rent and being foreclosed on is going to end up putting people on the street in spite of these good intentions,” — Kathy Fowler, secretary-treasurer of the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors and managing broker at McGraw Realtors.

Sep 08

Year to date evictions are down 28%.  August evictions are down down 37%.

In fact if you exclude the moratorium months of March, April and May, Milwaukee evictions are still down over 6%.

 Yet rent collections are off 8-16%, showing owners are working with tenants in unprecedented ways.

Milwaukee County Evictions
Sep 07

Now more than ever, “We are all in this together.”  The seemingly adversarial interactions of the past no longer serve anyone.  Those representing rental housing and those representing folks living in rental housing must work in unison to fix problems that have existed in the lower end of the market for as long as I’ve been in business.

A spokeswoman for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, which frequently represents tenants facing eviction, also noted that landlords’ financial well-being is crucial for people to maintain housing.

“Rent assistance is needed to ensure rent payments continue to be paid to landlords. Without rent assistance to help fund this order, many tenants will face an insurmountable rent burden when the moratorium lifts,” the spokeswoman said. “Also, there will be a profound impact on many landlords’ ability to continue their business.”

https://www.cleveland.com/realestate-news/2020/09/landlords-bracing-for-tough-few-months-due-to-trump-administrations-eviction-moratorium.html

In 1991, I was interviewed by a few national publications regarding the termination of a Christmas eviction moratorium in Milwaukee. While those articles are not online, a similar statement I made in a 2010 NYT article is:

Tim Ballering, who owns or manages some 900 rental units in Milwaukee, said a basic problem was the growing imbalance between low-end incomes and rents. A minimum-wage worker may gross little more than $1,100 a month; a welfare recipient in Wisconsin receives $673 a month, while two-bedroom units start at about $475.

“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

Nearly 30 years later, not much has changed.  Maybe COVID will be a blessing in disguise, allowing meaningful discussions that extend well past this current crisis.

Sep 06

This is one of the better articles I’ve read outlining the problems and questions surrounding the CDC order

https://daily-tribune.com/stories/magistrate-judge-says-cdc-eviction-moratorium-may-have-unintended-consequences,25832

Sep 04

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-09-04/pdf/2020-19654.pdf

The earlier CDC release stated that tenants did not have to provide proof with the declaration, but the landlord could request/challenge it.

The published rule, but of course it is not a rule, but an order,  as rules have rules, does not appear to have a mechanism to challenge the validity of the tenants’ declarations. (see below)  Instead, I guess you have to report the tenant to the FBI if you feel they lied. 

It is uncertain what an owner must do to be found in violation.  Do you actually have to evict after receiving a declaration, which courts should prevent from occurring?  Or would issuing a summons after receiving a declaration trigger a violation?  But how do you challenge the validity of the declaration if not in court?

I do not see specifically that issuing a 5-Day notice is a violation, but I’m sure that will be argued.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/02/your-money/eviction-moratorium-covid.html
A lawyer can also help if a landlord tries a different approach. For instance, a landlord might try to sue in small claims court over partial payments, without filing an eviction notice that might be illegal under the order, Mr. Dunn said.


The sample declaration form does not say anything about whether I need to prove my hardship to my landlord. Should I attach bank statements or other documents?

No, not to the declaration — at least not at first. The way the order is written means you need not lay out specifics in your declaration, said Emily Benfer, a visiting professor of law at Wake Forest University.

If the landlord challenges your initial assessment, however, you should provide “reasonable” specifics to prove your eligibility, according to senior administration officials who helped write the order.

This last sentence was in the CDC press release two days ago but is absent now.

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