Area landlords concerned after CDC halts evictions until end of the year

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The CDC is putting a halt on renter evictions until the end of the year to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While the measure is receiving praise from area tenants unions, the lack of rent payments leave landlords worried.

The CDC eviction moratorium covers all individuals who make up to $99,000 annually and couples who make $198,000 or less. Trump administration officials say the CDC has the authority to take necessary actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It’s good news, I’m pretty happy about it, I’m waiting to see more details, but it’s desperately needed,” said Levi Leppin, a legal officer for Milwaukee Autonomous Tenants Union.

MATU says while it’s good news for tenants, it does not eliminate rent payments once the moratorium ends.

So you can still be evicted starting in 2021,” said Leppin. “So you’re kind of kicking the can down the road in a sense.”

The move by the CDC, which is effective Sept. 4, received praise from Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey, he says in part:

“It will help stop the spread of the virus by avoiding having renters wind up in shelters or other crowded living conditions.”

Meanwhile landlord advocates are worried about how apartment buildings will be able to stay afloat.

“Well you know, I’m certainly concerned,” said Ron Hegwood, president of the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin.

They say only a small percent of their revenue from renters becomes profit.

Statistically only 9-percent on average is profit,” said Heiner Giese, an attorney for the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin.

The trickle-down effect on this is taxes won’t be paid, sewer and water bills won’t be paid, and mortgages won’t be paid,” Hegwood added.

In August, more than 750 evictions were filed in Milwaukee County.

The Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee says the order will keep families safe with a roof over their heads, but agrees landlords should also receive support. They say in part:

“There must be accompanying public funding to assist tenants in paying rent and landlords in paying mortgages to adequately address this unprecedented crisis.”

Jacqueleen Clark was evicted in Milwaukee in 2019 due to a job transition.

“It placed me in a situation of homelessness,” said Clark.

She says it’s been hard to secure a place to live after having an eviction on her record. After being denied numerous times she was able to find stable housing two months ago.

It put me in a position where I had to pay double rent because of this eviction,” Clark added.

Clark says while the moratorium is a small victory, it’s only temporary.

We have some type of coverage for now, but it’s going to be a continuous fight,” said Clark.

I will predict that there is going to be litigation somewhere in the country on this,” added Giese.

Under the moratorium, tenants will have to declare they are unable to pay rent due to the pandemic. Foley says forms will be available on the CDC website once the order is in the Federal Register on Sept. 4.

For more information, tenants can reach out to Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee by clicking here.

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