Actions Have Consequences

A news source called NTD posted an article on Wednesday about the impact of the eviction moratorium. NTD is a New York-based, global television network founded in 2001 by Chinese-Americans who fled communism. I think their perspective is very interesting.

The article reports:

Extended rent moratoriums and the slow distribution of billions in federal rent assistance are driving many small landlords to call it quits.

“Nobody wants to become a landlord anymore,” said Diane Baird, executive director of the Lake Erie Landlord Association. “And we have very few new people entering into the business.”

The Lake Erie Landlord Association represents landlords in northern Ohio, southern Michigan, and western Pennsylvania.

Jon Frickensmith, president of the South Wisconsin Landlord Association, told The Epoch Times, “Multiple landlords have told me they are selling out. They ask us how to get out of the business and how to get the tenants out of their houses. These are mom-and-pop operators, the kind of landlords that are willing to take tenants with bad credit or a criminal history. This will only add to the housing crisis.”

The vast majority of landlords in the United States are individuals, with most owning one or two rental houses.

The article notes:

The National Equity Atlas estimates that American landlords are owed more than $21 billion in overdue rent.

Don James, president of the Florida Landlord Association in Coral Gables, believes the moratorium is detrimental to renters as well as landlords.

“We as landlords cannot enforce our rental contracts and, this being a seller’s market, (it) is forcing landlords to sell their properties. This is going to cause shrinking of rental facilities, thus hurting renters.”

Mike Bodeis, president of the 450-member Port Huron Area Landlord Association, and himself the owner of 40 rental houses, told The Epoch Times, “It’s a myth that 3.6 million Americans may soon be made homeless. Two-thirds of them could be paying their rent, but are not because they choose not to. They did not choose to pay their rent or utility bills with all the stimulus money they received.

To illustrate, Bodeis said, “In one eviction, in which I personally participated, we took six flatscreen TVs out of the house. It’s all about priorities.”

I have seen this lack of priorities in action before. Poverty has a lot more to it than how much money a person makes. It has to do with learning to set priorities and make responsible decisions. After hurricane Katrina, residents in New Orleans received government checks of a couple of thousand dollars to provide for temporary housing–the government understood that much of the housing in New Orleans was uninhabitable after the hurricane. As soon as those checks were received, business at the strip clubs and riverboat gambling casinos increased rapidly. Many of the people who received those checks had never been taught to plan for the future or to be financially responsible. Many people who were out of work because of the Covid epidemic did the same sort of thing.

The problem of reckless personal spending has its roots in our culture, our education system, and our government. Our government sets the example of reckless spending; our citizens follow that example. Out schools do not teach basic life skills such as budgeting, basic financial planning, and personal responsibility. Our culture is one of instant gratification–the use of credit cards is encouraged, enormous education debt is encouraged, and many Americans have incurred more debt than they will ever be able to pay off.

Putting a moratorium on evictions is not the answer. Getting the money to the renters who need it and somehow putting guardrails around how the money is spent is what is needed.

Creating A Catch-22 For Landlords

Owning rental property is one way to plan for your retirement. If you are handy and live close to the property, it can be a very profitable investment. If you don’t live nearby, a good rental agency can handle the details for you.

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted a story about a new federal regulation that is going to make being a successful landlord more difficult.

The article reports:

The Obama administration has just made it easier for felons to move in next door. Landlords who don’t want tenants who are going to mug their neighbors or deal drugs will now be treated as racists and potentially sued.

Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued new guidelines to landlords, warning that bans against renters with criminal convictions violate the Fair Housing Act because they disproportionately affect minorities.

In effect, the Obama regime is now outlawing criminal background checks for apartment rentals, even though such screening is critical for the protection and security of tenants and property, and serves a legitimate business need.

In a newly released 10-page missive, HUD warns landlords they can be held liable for discrimination if they deny housing over criminal records.

It gets really interesting when you consider the other side of the coin:

So now landlords, real estate agents and property managers will think twice before turning away drug dealers and thieves, even rapists, who are members of this “protected class” — even though barring high-risk tenants serves a legitimate, nondiscriminatory purpose.

This puts landlords in a terrible legal bind.

To protect themselves from federal action, they would be wise to avoid even inquiring about the criminal records of prospective tenants. But if they fail to adequately screen them and rent to one who robs or hurts a neighbor, they could be sued by the victim for negligence.

No doubt many will see no option but to raise rents to indirectly exclude criminals from their rentals, which will just end up hurting everybody who rents housing — including innocent, law-abiding tenants.

In a move to protect the rights of convicted felons, the federal government has just created problems for the average American. I believe people who are renting property have the right to know the background of their renters. If a landlord feels that a former criminal has changed his ways, he should be free to rent to him. However, if there is no indication that a former criminal has changed his ways, the landlord should have the right to determine whether or not he wants to rent his property to that person.