Pushed to the Brink – Eviction Moratorium Must Be Lifted

Owning a home is a privilege. Having a roof over your head is one of life’s necessities along with eating food and drinking water. On April 10, 2020, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 7-X and it impacted those that own rental property and tenants that reside in their apartments.

After a year, here’s how the Governor’s Order has impacted Connecticut’s apartment rental industry. The eviction moratorium resulting from 7-X has also produced the largest act of “Government Takings” in Connecticut’s history and is impacting housing, neighborhoods and people’s lives in a negative fashion. The eviction moratorium was needed for a few months only. To extend it over a year is out of line, overdue for repeal and helping nobody but tenants that are scamming the system.

Most States have lifted their protective orders, 32 by last count and more are expected to do so soon. There has not been a “Tsunami of Evictions” anywhere in the country as tenant advocates predicted. That was just a big lie produced by the radicals that want free housing for all and hate private ownership of rental housing servicing the low-income and working-class voters.

Why no tsunami of evictions? Just about every citizen that was legitimately working before Covid was not harmed financially. The government issued Federal Unemployment insurance, produced three stimulus payments and States extended their own unemployment programs.

Further, Section-8 never stopped paying rent, SSI Disability checks never stopped flowing, pension funds kept paying retirement benefits but the majority of the 19,000 tenants that get evicted annually in Connecticut before Covid simply refused to pay rent because now they could and basically the government said it was okay!

For over one-year, non-paying tenants have been holed up, living for free, without worry of eviction at a tremendous expense to housing providers. These “scammers” benefited because of a well-intended idea by an inexperienced Governor that requested input only from the Tenant Advocates before he made his housing policy decision.

Clearly before anyone gets elected to the office of Governor, they should have some previous experience in government. Lamont’s lack of political experience caused him to receive input on housing maters from the tenant advocates only. His team should have had the political expertise to ask for consultation from property managers and the housing providers before making his decision. Whenever communication from the housing providers was initiated with the Governor’s office, it simply fell on deaf ears. There was not any back and forth, no substantive dialogue, no let’s talk again tomorrow, in fact, it was a one-way conversation.

Yes, this governor kicked rental property owners to the curb as a class of small business owners and that’s actionable, a lawsuit was filed against the State in Federal Court and that case is pending. He has forced the governments will without just compensation on housing providers to shelter most of Connecticut’s worst tenants for free.

Lamont didn’t force the grocery stores to provide free food for people or force the municipalities to stop charging for tap-water, both are also life-necessities. He just blew-up housing providers that continue to financially take it on the chin as we speak, and many will lose their properties because of his actions.

One huge and completely over-looked fact is good tenants also want these troublesome “scammers’ out of their buildings as well. Extending the eviction moratorium just benefits the professional non-paying renter, criminals, squatters, drug dealers and gang members.

This Governor fails to recognize he has hurt tens of thousands of good tenants by forcing them to live with problem renters. There will be a day that he’ll realize his mistake if he seeks reelection because the housing providers are now finally talking about organizing in a big way! Good tenants and good landlords form an invincible political alignment…. and payback may be painful for Lamont’s reelection efforts.

Making matters worse, he needs extricate himself quickly before he’s responsible for more bloodshed by housing providers from violent criminal acts. Unfortunately, yes, tenants have murdered landlords recently in rent disputes and more violence will occur the longer they can steal openly from housing providers without recourse.

Lamont needs a solution and the property owner community has just what he needs, a real solution that is a win-win for all. Instead of extending the eviction moratorium he needs to open the courts immediately. Connecticut received a large amount of federal Covid-Relief funds to help prevent homelessness. The problem is many tenants have been paying or trying to pay rent, those that are not trying are just abusing the system.

At issue is the tenants that never lost their jobs or subsidies. The Governor’s well intended but misguided Executive Order 7-X wound up protecting not renters in danger of being displaced by Covid, it protected tenants that do have jobs and income but choose to gamble, buy booze, buy drugs and do whatever they want except pay their rent obligation. This irresponsible tenant behavior has been going on for decades, nothing new here, but it should not be rewarded and protected by our government!

With the federal funds available to solve some of this financial mess, the CT Department of Housing, again without any input from the private housing providers created a program to help pay “back-rent” to prevent homelessness. The hitch, you need tenant cooperation to start the process.

Without any threat of being evicted, why would a tenant fill out paperwork and want to start paying rent again? They are already living for free, have no worries about being held accountable or being evicted so the Unite-CT program is a severely under-preforming and has both landlord and tenant advocates equally frustrated.

Connecticut needs to open the housing courts and make tenants accountable for their actions. Those deserving help from the Unite CT funds will be protected as the courts shall make the dollars available through the mediation process that occurs before any eviction is granted.

This is a disaster that could have been prevented. The governors lack of political inexperience showed. His policy advisors did the citizens of Connecticut a disservice but not seeking equal insights into this matter. The result is Executive Order 7-X and the resulting eviction moratorium benefited the element in our state that doesn’t contribute to our society but is the element that costs our society.

Lamont should clearly heed what I am about to say next. When landlords and good tenants align forces, strange things happen politically. His actions will drive up rents, make it more difficult get housing and lead to more hardship. This is equally true with some of the current legislation impacting housing specifically, concealing criminal and eviction records, it hurts the decent folks and taxpayers!

I foresee political pushback and one need not look further than right here in Connecticut and to the city of New Britain. That’s when a few years ago landlords got fired-up because they were called, “a bunch of angry absentee slumlords that didn’t want to take care of their properties.”  That was the message coming direct from city hall when they created a local landlord tax. Their words sounded more like a rhetoric from a bunch of irrational radical socialists than elected officials.

Again, lack of political experience in housing was evidenced in New Britain as the question, who was going to pay this New Britain landlord tax wasn’t discussed logically. It was going to be put directly on the backs of the tenants. Landlords organized and sought out help from their tenants because the owners didn’t want to raise rents.

Once the two forces united, they pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Connecticut’s political history as Erin Stewart defeated Mayor Tim O’Brien by a wide margin despite O’Brien enjoying a 6 to 1 voter registration advantage. This political partnership between good tenants and housing providers can be forged once again.

Good tenants are suffering equally along with housing providers and this eviction moratorium needs to be lifted immediately as it is protecting the wrong individuals and hurting everyone else.

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