Rent owed

The county gets ready for a wave of evictions

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 4/14/21

REGION — Tenants, remember this: No matter how badly the pandemic has hurt you, the rent is still due.

You may not be evicted just yet for non-payment. The CDC extended the eviction …

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Rent owed

The county gets ready for a wave of evictions

Posted

REGION — Tenants, remember this: No matter how badly the pandemic has hurt you, the rent is still due.

You may not be evicted just yet for non-payment. The CDC extended the eviction moratorium until June 30, and the American Rescue Plan signed in March offers rental assistance to keep people from winding up homeless when evictions can take place again.

But Sullivan County’s family services department is bracing itself. Eventually, July 1 will roll around. Even if federal funds flow, the “eviction moratorium is a priority,” said family services commissioner John Liddle at the April 8 health and family services committee meeting. “There’s a lot headed our way.” 

Housing mattered in the pandemic, not just because homelessness is associated with a host of problems, but because the unhoused are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and may have a tougher time getting care. 

Post-pandemic possibilities are presenting themselves. They aren’t all hopeful.

To get a sense of the future, Liddle’s department surveyed landlords throughout the county; 91 responded, encompassing 3,357 rental units—“a third of the rental units in the county.”

“It’s a non-scientific survey,” he cautioned. It’s only 91 landlords, and they probably don’t represent all the landlords here. But still, it’s a start. 

The landlords reported 647 units in arrears, 19.3 percent of the total. You can extrapolate from that and get 1,000 to 1,700 units total “who will be looking for the emergency rental assistance funds when they become available,” he said. 

Joe Perrello, a landlord and legislator, brought up frustrations that landlords deal with, such as when a tenant packs up and leaves without paying back rent. The landlord has to go through the courts to get any kind of compensation. Or when tenants spend on wants rather than taking care of the rent they owe. 

And sometimes landlords make things difficult for their tenants. “We’re really trying to look out for everyone as best as we can,” Liddle responded. Ideally, the landlord would work with their tenants. “There’s some goodwill out there.”

Emergency Rental Assistance programs will be there to help, and people should take advantage. 

No matter how badly you’ve been hit by the pandemic, no matter that you lost your job or a family member is ill, “that rent is still coming due,” Liddle said. “If you don’t pay it, and you try to bail... that landlord has every legal right to try to get their money back.”

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