Some of America’s largest residential landlords have moved to boot thousands of tenants from their homes during the coronavirus pandemic despite federal eviction protections, a new report says.
Big corporate landlords have filed nearly 10,000 eviction actions in courts across five states even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has barred them from kicking out many tenants who can’t pay rent because of the COVID-19 crisis, NBC News reported Monday.
While the CDC rules say such tenants can’t be physically removed from their homes before the end of the year, they allow landlords to start eviction proceedings now and don’t require them to tell tenants about the protections that are available.
That allowed Progress Residential, which owns and leases 40,000 homes nationwide, to threaten Cristina Velez with eviction after she lost her job running a team on a COVID-19 treatment trial in early September, according to NBC.
Velez sold her car to pay the company, which delivered eviction papers to her Boca Raton, Florida, home last month demanding $4,210.14 in rent and legal fees, the network reported.
“I told them I was affected by COVID, but it didn’t matter to them,” Velez told NBC. “They are not very patient.”
Progress has filed 97 eviction cases against tenants since the CDC announced its eviction rules in early September, and even that’s dwarfed by the 281 cases brought by real estate services firm Ventron Management, NBC reports.
Invitation Homes — a publicly traded firm that owns 80,000 homes and saw its earnings climb 54 percent in the first half of the year — has filed another 122 eviction cases, according to NBC. The outlet cited figures from a database built by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a nonprofit that tracks the private equity industry.
Landlords told NBC they’re following the CDC rules and working with tenants who are struggling to make rent because of the pandemic. Invitation Homes executive Kristi DesJarlais also reportedly questioned the “veracity” of the list that the Private Equity Stakeholder Project compiled.
“We have been doing what the CDC order directs since early in the pandemic, working with our residents facing COVID-related financial hardships and offering a variety of payment options so they can stay in their homes,” DesJarlais, a senior vice president at Dallas-based Invitation, told NBC.
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