Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus last month—absent any similar action from the Republican-led Senate—wealthy corporate landlords have blatantly ignored the order, issuing eviction notices to thousands of tenants across five states, according to a watchdog report.
The Private Equity Stakeholder Project, which tracks the impact private equity firms have on communities, revealed on Monday that in 23 counties across Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas, corporate management companies run by deep-pocketed financial firms evicted or tried to evict nearly 10,000 tenants between early September and October 17. The total number of eviction proceedings by corporate landlords across the U.S. since the CDC attempted to stop them is likely much larger.
As NBC News reported, corporate landlords flouted the CDC's guidance, which ordered them to halt evictions for any tenant who was affected by the coronavirus pandemic and couldn't pay rent, as soon as it was issued on September 4.
The Trump administration, though, made it even easier for wealthy companies to continue evicting tenants this month when it issued new guidance saying landlords can challenge tenants' claims that they are eligible for the moratorium.
The National Apartment Association proudly claimed this month that it had direct conversations with the White House and the Department of Justice to ensure the eviction ban would be less stringent for corporate landlords to follow—and more punitive to struggling renters.
After the new guidance was issued, nearly 2,000 new eviction proceedings were reported across the five states in one week—nearly double the amount issued the previous week.
"The decisions of large companies to advance evictions despite the moratorium quite literally threatens the health of residents and the broader public," Jim Baker, executive director of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, told NBC.
The organization noted some of the wealthy corporate landlords which have filed the most evictions since the moratorium was called in early September, including Invitation Homes, MAA Communities, and Greystar Apartments.
— PE Stakeholder (@PEstakeholder) October 26, 2020
Invitation Homes moved to eject more than 130 tenants since September 2 despite its skyrocketing stock price and earnings, which rose by 54% in the first six months of 2020.
Ventron Management, a Canadian real estate firm, has initiated 281 proceedings during the moratorium—the worst offender documented by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project.
David Wertheimer, a housing rights activist in Seattle, called the project's report "terrifying."
— David Wertheimer (@DavidWSeattle) October 26, 2020
"The spike in homelessness that results from the absence of continuing tenant protections in the Covid era spells disaster for too many Americans," Wertheimer tweeted.