Written by Miguel Palacios
May the 4th was International Star Wars Day, but it wasn’t all fun for everyone. The Tuesday meeting of County Supervisors voted on the continuance of the ordinance to prevent landlords from evicting tenants who have failed to pay rent during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in favor of the ordinance. The two dissenting votes were from Republicans Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond.
The ordinance specifically calls for the extension of the moratorium on evictions and states that the only exception for landlords that will allow them to evict tenants is if the tenant is a danger to the health or safety of other tenants in the same building. Surely, many people have come across financial issues during these times and have stopped receiving income or receive limited income. It is understandable that tenants would need assistance and according to Anderson, the county has $80 Million built into the budget for relief aid. So why isn’t the county helping tenants pay their rent instead of making landlords struggle with bills on their own?
This is the exact reason why Supervisors Anderson and Desmond voted against the moratorium. At a press conference the same day of the meeting, Joel Anderson stated the ordinance was unfair to the landlords who are dependent upon rent revenue to pay their mortgages and retirement. It is also forcing some landlords into very uncomfortable, even hostile, situations with uncooperative tenants.
Last Thursday, The Southern California Rental Housing Association sued the county and Board Supervisors because of the ordinance, seeking an injunction against the moratorium, which goes into effect early in June. The association emphasized that many of the landlords seeking this injunction are just small property owners, not landlords of the vast apartment complexes. This ordinance is meant to help tenants from becoming homeless, but many of these landlords are facing the same issues from creditors and mortgage lenders. Nothing is preventing landlords from losing properties to the banks, and they still have their own lives to provide for. Where is their help? If the ordinance had not passed to begin with, the lawsuit would never have happened.
Evicting non-paying tenants doesn’t necessarily help landlords, but it does get the house or unit back on the rental market and available to people who can pay rent, which does help them. It is worth noting that tenants are not the only ones being negatively affected by this pandemic. San Diego county officials, let’s start using that $80 Million in relief funds to pay these tenants’ rents. Help the tenants, and help the landlords.