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Enhanced unemployment benefits, which provided individuals with up to an extra $600 a week, expired July 31. And now, Congress’ talks for a second stimulus package have stalled. President Donald Trump, who appeared to take unilateral action to halt evictions, ultimately issued an order on Sunday that told agencies to “consider” another eviction ban for properties backed by the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Boston Real Estate Evictions

The impasse between the White House and Congress has left landlords and tenants to fend for themselves. Most in the real estate industry feel that federal and state efforts to stop evictions fail to address the fundamental problem keeping tenants from paying rent: Unemployment is at levels not seen since the Great Depression, and direct federal aid has run out.

In many states, eviction moratoriums are set to expire or are becoming more limited in scope. In some cases, landlords aren’t waiting for the legal system, and are conducting extrajudicial evictions by removing tenants from their homes. Nearly a dozen landlord groups across the country are suing local governments to dismantle existing eviction bans.

Landlords and Collecting Rent

Since the coronavirus pandemic led to a sweeping economic shutdown in March, landlords have seen an uneven impact on rent collections. Surveys have consistently shown that lower-income housing has seen greater rent shortfalls. Many workers, those who are undocumented or in the gig economy, are excluded from receiving federal aid.

Many landlords are hoping for a further relief plan — with direct payments or rental vouchers for tenants — from the federal government. One large multifamily landlord said that without federal assistance, there will be a “downward cycle from which it will likely take decades to recover.”

Several large landlords said they were less concerned about the limits on evictions than the possibility that people will leave New York City and not return. One multifamily firm reported vacancy levels that were at “unsustainable” levels.

Congress and White House

It’s a mixed bag — some politicians’ concerns are warranted, and some are irresponsible, but they’re just playing politics, It’s about currying favor with the voters.

Original Boston Real Estate Blog Post

In many ways, an eviction is worse than a foreclosure or bankruptcy because of all the bad warning flags that follow one who has been evicted. Someone who has gone through a foreclosure or bankruptcy may simply have fallen on bad financial times. An eviction though follows former tenants with labels like “deadbeat,” “undesirable” and/or “troublemaker.”

So how long will an eviction follow a non-performing tenant?

Seven years. After that time, evictions are deleted from public records, credit reports, and rental history. That seven years, though, can be hell because many/most landlords will immediately refuse to rent to anyone who has been evicted. And in the Boston Beacon Hill apartment rental market, why would property owner or manager want to lease to a former evictee when there are many others with clean references wanting to rent a given property as well?

You may wonder if evictions will show up on rental background checks? The answer is YES. And in order to determine tenant liability, the vast majority of property owners and managers will pull background checks on all applicants. The internet has made this checking process much easier and faster than in prior years.

So what’s someone to do if they have an eviction on their record?

They might plea with the next owner, offer to pay much higher rent (in advance), a larger deposit, or move into cheaper neighborhood or project that accepts weekly rents. Or, you may be able to find a co-signer, offer solid employment proof, and include a cover letter with your application. There is no guarantee, though, with current market conditions where even solid applicants with clean records are struggling to find good rentals.

Finally, is it possible to get an eviction expunged from court records? It is an expensive possibility that will require compensation to prior landlord, attorney and filing fees. You will have to file a motion to get the expungement, but there is absolutely no guarantee of success.

The best advice we can offer is:

Never, ever go so far that you get an eviction on your record. You are better off abandoning the property and renting elsewhere as soon as possible–while you can.

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