Landlords, tenants struggle under COVID-19 eviction moratorium

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Patrick Murphy

Once the eviction moratorium is lifted, a year’s worth of prevented evictions may all occur in one day.

Greg Gancarz, Reporter

DeKalb – Governor J.B. Pritzker’s extension of an eviction moratorium until this Saturday continues to protect individuals who meet certain criteria. However, the Pritzker administration has proposed no solutions for tenants who are set to eventually be evicted, or for landlords who stand to lose months of income from rent payments.

Once the moratorium is lifted, which has been in place since March 2020, a year’s worth of prevented evictions will all occur in one day, said Jacob Maas, leader of the DeKalb Tenants Association.

Renters who may be facing hardship already due to their place of employment being shuttered from COVID-19 restrictions may now face homelessness as well, while affected landlords are on track to lose nearly a year of unpaid rent.

Maas said federal taxpayers and the U.S. Department of Treasury should be the solution, in the form of more cash payments to renters.

“I think that the best short- to medium-term plan would be for the federal government to provide money to tenants [so] that they can pay their landlords,” Maas said. “The government needs to take responsibility. There’s always money for the Pentagon or money to give to Egypt or Israel. Domestic housing is just as important.”

The national moratorium was extended until March 31 by President Joe Biden. 

Local landlords have varying opinions on the governor’s executive order. Rob Jimenez, who rents out his former home in Sycamore, agreed with the motives but said property owners are left out.

“As the landlord, I still have to pay my end of expenses and the mortgage,” Jimenez said. “What is the government doing for the landlords? I think it’s too easy for people who don’t need it to take advantage, but every situation is different. If my tenant was a single parent with dependents, of course, I wouldn’t evict. A college student who can easily move back in with their parents is another story.”

Joe Singh, who owns an apartment building in DeKalb, says the moratorium is necessary. 

“I have a couple of tenants who haven’t been paying rent since March and they really can’t pay it,” Singh said. “One of them was working as a cook at a restaurant and the restaurant shut down for good, so he’s out of a job. Now, if he was evicted, he pretty much has nowhere to go. Instead of that, I will probably have him on a payment plan.”

Singh also said the federal government should play more of a role in providing relief. 

Congress members such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have already criticized Biden’s administration for reneging on stimulus checks for a full $2,000, according to a Jan.14 tweet from Ocasio-Cortez. 

Meanwhile, local city and county officials are left powerless to implement any community-based solutions, City Manager Bill Nicklas said.

“We weigh in between landlords and tenants if our municipal ordinances have been violated, but we don’t have any say in the courts like the governor does,” Nicklas said.