• The Financial District

LANDLORDS SEEK HELP IN CALIFORNIA

Landlords said they feel stuck and abandoned because of California’s temporary eviction moratorium, which was put into place to help people who may be struggling to pay rent due the novel coronavirus outbreak and the resulting public health restrictions.

“We cannot exercise our rights in court,” Diana Polyakov was quoted by KCRA 3 News which carried the story.


Diana and Michael Polyakov said they are at the mercy of the state’s eviction moratorium. They recently purchased their dream home in Granite Bay and temporarily rented it out. But they said now, the renters aren’t paying and aren’t leaving.


“School starts and my kids don't have a permanent house, right now," Diana Polyakov said. "So, I have chills. I'm going to start crying. I don't know what to do."


Her husband, Michael Polyakov, feels helpless.


“We are currently $20,000 down from what we’re supposed to get for all these months that we didn’t receive the payments,” he said.


The Polyakovs said his issue with the eviction ban is not just the financial ramifications, but more importantly, the legal ones. He wants to see government officials help landlords when renters may be taking advantage of the eviction moratorium.


“You take away the legal rights for me to protect my dream," Michael Polyakov said. "This is my dream we're talking about — and you took it away. This is not right.”


The California Rental Housing Association agrees that the moratorium should be lifted. The organization represents 22,000 rental home providers across the state.


“Incentivizing tenants not to fulfill their obligations is irresponsible,” said Executive Director Russell Lowery.


Lowery said the eviction moratorium hurts not only landlords, but the state’s economy as a whole.


“We sustain a whole infrastructure of other small businesses that provide services: plumbers, electricians, handymen,” he said. “When we don’t have that income coming in, we can’t pay our mortgage. We can’t pay all those others services that support the economy. And ultimately if we don’t, well, if we don’t provide someone a place to live, renters suffer under that environment as well.”


The eviction moratorium is already being challenged in court. A Sacramento attorney filed a lawsuit on behalf of two landlords in Southern California. Damien Schiff, a senior attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, said some of the tenants are not paying rent to his clients, but they can not do anything about it. The Judicial Council of California ordered the ban, but he said they did not have the authority to do that.


“It is unconstitutional because it violates the doctrine of the separation of powers,” Schiff said. “It's not their call to make. It's rather a call that the Legislature should be making.”


He is also concerned that the moratorium not only hurts landlords who are no longer receiving payments, but the state’s housing situation as a whole.


“I think it’s important to bear in mind that the affordable housing crisis in California is still going on, even with coronavirus. And so people desperately need housing,” Schiff said.

As for the renters in the Polyakov’s house, their attorney, Eric Toscano, said in a statement:

“While [my clients] understand that circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic have presented challenges for both landlords and tenants, the actions taken here by their landlords have circumvented the legal process in violation of the law."


The Polyakovs said they are suffering in this situation. Now, they and their kids are living in an AirBnb in Elk Grove, hoping for some resolution by state leaders.


“In such times, the government needs to protect people like us,” Michael Polyakov said.


"There’s no legal way for me to get into my house and the law protects people abusing the system."


As of now, the eviction moratorium prevents courts from processing evictions. The moratorium will stay in place until 90 days after Newsom ends the state of emergency or until it is amended or repealed by the Judicial Council. But recently, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said the eviction moratorium could end as early as Aug. 14.


Lowery said instead of an eviction ban, he would like to see the state and federal government help with renters assistance programs. He said he sympathizes with renters who have lost their jobs and urges government to help.


“The idea that there’s this flood of greedy landlords who are just waiting to prey on tenants is a myth. And you’re going to turn a small problem into a systemic one if you ban evictions and you encourage people who can otherwise pay their rent not to,” he said. “We work out arrangements with tenants, hundreds of thousands of them across the state, every month. We’re in this together.”


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