Another Perspective on Evictions

A more realistic depiction of an eviction

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

As has been reported on this blog, the Virginia Supreme Court granted Governor Northam’s request to extend the moratorium on evictions related to non-payment of rent.

The court was closely divided, 4-3. The dissenting opinions are quite convincing. It is obvious that the majority, cognizant of the dilemma caused by thousands of tenants out of jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and facing eviction from their homes, decided to give the Governor, General Assembly, and (implicitly) Congress one more chance to come up with a solution.

Evictions generally

Rather than debate the merits of the Court’s decision,  I am largely responding to, and following up on, Jim Bacon’s recent post regarding evictions and what happened to the federal CARES funding that has been provided.

Jim suggested that one answer might be that “poor people became suddenly overwhelmed with additional financial burdens,” but he doubts that is the answer. Another possibility he, and some commenters, raised is that poor people are “squandering their money on stupid stuff or feeding their drug/alcohol addictions rather than using it to pay their rent.” He then concedes that he has seen no evidence to confirm that conjecture. (One wonders why he would raise these two possibilities if there were no evidence to support them.)

Although Jim dismisses the possibility that poor people and the unemployed are not getting the additional federal money, that is indeed one plausible explanation for which there is evidence. There are estimates that 12 million poor people have not received their $1,200 stimulus checks. It is likely that a good number of those people live in Virginia. The Virginia Employment Commission was overwhelmed with claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and did not start taking applications for the $600 weekly supplement until July 2 and issued the first checks on July 7. If you got laid off in April, and had been living paycheck-to-paycheck before that, it would have been quite easy to get behind on your rent while you were waiting for VEC to process your unemployment claim and before you could even submit a claim for the $600 supplement.

Another possibility is that people got some of these benefits, but it was not enough. If you were laid off in early March, you could have easily been a month or two behind in your rent by the time you got your $1,200 stimulus check.  After you used that check to pay off the back rent plus penalties (you would be lucky if it were enough),  you would be trying to make ends meet while you waited for VEC to process your claim.

One commenter was correct in pointing out that reasons other than nonpayment of rent, such as property damage or rules violations, can be causes for eviction. However, as Jim Sherlock explained in his recent post, the Virginia Supreme Court amended its first moratorium order to allow eviction cases for reasons other than nonpayment to go forward and the most recent court order also allows those types of actions.

Lost in this discussion is the recognition that folks are often evicted for being only a few days late on the rent, usually because the date on which they get paid does not coincide with the date the rent is due. If they are late even a few days, late fees and penalties can be tacked on, putting them further in the hole.

Although it is illegal for landlords to do so, tenants are evicted in retaliation for complaining about unhealthy living conditions, inoperative appliances, leaky roofs, etc. or for reporting the landlord for housing code violations. It is up to the tenant to prove that it was the intent of the landlord to retaliate and that is often hard to prove. Furthermore, if a tenant does not have a lawyer, and few do, they are not likely to raise this issue in court.  n fact, there are law firms that advise landlords that the retaliation provisions are narrow and easy for them to beat.

Governor Northam’s response

Some contributors and commenters on this blog take the Governor to task for not calling the General Assembly into session earlier, in June or July, to deal with the eviction problem, rather than putting the Supreme Court in an obviously awkward position. I disagree. The Governor did not need to call the legislature into special session earlier because he already had the power and the resources to deal with the problem until the August special session. I blame the Governor for not using this authority and resources and for not being sufficiently aggressive in the past in dealing with the eviction problem.

The estimated number of potential evictions varies with the time frame being considered. In his July 24 letter to the Chief Justice, the Governor cited over 6,000 cases pending for hearing between July 20 and August 7. The Legal Aid Justice Center’s Virginia Eviction Tracker notes that 8,587 cases are scheduled to be heard by September 21.

There are at least two factors that would indicate that these estimates overstate the number facing eviction due to overdue rental payments. First, as already noted, not all evictions are related to non-payment of rent. It is not known how many of the pending cases would fall into that category, but taking those out of the count would result in fewer tenants facing eviction due to non-payment.

A second factor is the Eviction Diversion Pilot programs that took effect on July 1 in Danville, Hampton, Petersburg, and Richmond. The essence of these programs is the establishment of payment programs whereby a tenant can pay off past due rent in installments. Until the participants have fully paid their back rent, their cases remain on the docket. Therefore, the number of pending cases probably includes some cases in which tenants are paying their past due rents off gradually.

The number of tenants participating in the pilot programs is not known. I asked the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court, which was responsible for establishing the programs, for the data and was referred to the clerks’ offices for each of the courts participating. E-mail addresses of those offices are not readily available. Although the Supreme Court is seemingly trying to wash its hands of any further involvement in the program, the legislation establishing it requires the Court to provide data to the Virginia Housing Commission (a legislative agency) “at such times as requested by the Commission.” The Governor should ask his fellow Democrats on the Housing Commission to request data on the participation in the Eviction Diversion Program. That would give him a better idea of the scope of the problem.

Whatever the number of tenants facing eviction, the Governor earlier passed up an opportunity to follow up on prior actions to provide the most crucial assistance, short of money, that a tenant can have: a lawyer. Many commentators have noted that legal representation of tenants can lead to a significant decrease in evictions. In his 2019 budget recommendations, the Governor included the $2.6 million requested by the State Bar to hire 35 attorneys to represent indigent tenants. (The State Bar does not provide such representation itself; rather, the funds would be used to contract with the Legal Services Corporation of Virginia to provide the services.) The General Assembly reduced this amount to $1.3 million and stipulated that it was for “additional staff” for the State Bar, without mentioning the provision of legal assistance for poor people facing evictions.  (See here and here.)

There was no funding for additional eviction-defense attorneys included in the 2020-2022 budget bill submitted by the Governor, but the General Assembly stepped up and provided an additional $1.5 million annually for housing attorneys. That funding was part of the $2 billion in new funding later unallotted due to the economic effects of the pandemic. It will be interesting to see if the Governor recommends freeing up those funds in his budget recommendations to the reconvened session. That would be an effective and relatively inexpensive way of partially dealing with the eviction issue, although its effect would be delayed until attorneys could be hired.

As for immediate, tangible assistance for tenants, there was no need for the Governor to go to the Supreme Court for an extension of the moratorium. He had a statutory moratorium and a pot of money that he could use to help tenants.

As noted by the dissenting Justices of the Supreme Court, the General Assembly had passed HB 340, with amendments requested by the Governor, and effective immediately. The legislation enabled any tenant who had been laid off as a result of the pandemic to obtain a 60-day continuance on any eviction proceeding.

To provide financial assistance to such tenants, the Governor earmarked $50 million of the federal CARES funds that the Commonwealth was slated to receive. But, as is the case with all programs, it took some time to get this assistance program up and running. In the middle of a pandemic, with many staff working from home, the problems were even greater. In his July 24 letter to the Chief Justice, the Governor reported that “we have worked to provide relief to 1,880 households experiencing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic and processed payments to 467.” That was just a drop in the ocean of over 6,000 cases pending for hearing between July 20 and August 7. Out of curiosity, I called the phone number provided for information on the program. A voice mail response told me to leave my name and number and that it may take several days for a counselor to call back. (I started to leave my number just to see how long it would take someone to call me back, but I decided not to clog up the system any more than it already was.) Obviously, the administration waited too long to put its rent program together, so that it could be ready to operate as soon as the money was available.

The Governor could have been more proactive in providing financial assistance for persons facing eviction. The Commonwealth is entitled to approximately $1.8 billion in federal CARES money. The $50 million allocated for eviction and foreclosure relief is less than three percent of that total. That seems to be a really small proportion to be used to meet, in the Governor’s words, “the distinct threat that the most vulnerable Virginians will be evicted from their houses at a time when our public health crisis is expanding….”

Undoubtedly, the administration would counter that there are many other COVID-related expenses for which the federal money is needed. Although the exact numbers are not readily available to the public, they would probably point to the millions used in FY 2020 to pay the costs of testing, PPEs, etc. That is largely a budget and accounting subterfuge. Agencies used their general fund appropriations to cover these COVID expenses. At the end of the fiscal year, when the federal funds were available, but agencies were no longer able to enter transactions into the state accounting system, the Department of Accounts changed the coding of those expenditures from general fund (fund 01000) to CARES (fund 10110). The result was a “freeing up” of general fund appropriation that contributed to the state’s year-end balance (surplus). The agencies never saw or benefited from the CARES funding.  That CARES money that was used to increase the year-end general fund could have been used instead for eviction relief. The total amount is not publicly available, but I think it, added to the $50 million, would have gone a long way toward helping tenants behind in their rents.

A major shortcoming of the administration’s rent assistance program is that it provides one-time payments only. Such a payment might be enough to enable a tenant to catch up on back rent owed. For those that now have jobs, it would mean that landlords would be paid and the tenants could continue to have a home. It will not help someone who is unemployed to keep up those payments in the future.

It really seems that the Northam administration has no long-term plan to address the eviction crisis. In his July 24 letter to the Chief Justice, the Governor referred vaguely to working with the General Assembly on a legislative package “to provide additional relief to those facing eviction and to expand financial assistance for tenants through our rent relief program.” The General Assembly is scheduled to convene in Special Session in less than two weeks.  would seem that the Governor would want to roll out his legislative program before then, for no other reason than to provide some credibility for his moratorium extension request. In any event, he has the authority today to allocate more federal CARES money for his rent relief program; he does not have to wait for the General Assembly.

Supplemental UI benefits

Conservatives have taken a curious position regarding unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and evictions. On the one hand, they acknowledge the difficult position of tenants who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and say they “want every tenant who cannot pay because of COVID to be able to stay in his house.” On the other hand, they tend to oppose the very means whereby the unemployed can stay in their houses and landlords can also be paid: the federal supplemental UI benefit of up to $600 per week.

A major objection they raise is that this supplement results in a lot of people receiving more from UI benefits than from working and thus having little incentive to return to work. Upon close examination, however, this objection does not hold up. In the first place, with some exceptions, workers who fail to look for work or turn down a job risk losing all their unemployment benefits. Secondly, people actually are returning to work. In May, employers added 2.5 million jobs, in June, 4.8 million, and in July, 1.8 million, as the unemployment rate declined. Finally, proponents of this position offer only anecdotal evidence. On the other hand, recent research has shown that the enhanced UI benefits did not act as an incentive to remain unemployed.

Another objection is that continuing the supplement of $600 per week would be too costly. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that the cost to extend the benefit through December would be $437 billion. I agree that is a lot of money. But so is the estimated $258 billion, for calendar year 2020 alone, in tax breaks embedded in the CARES legislation that benefits millionaires and billionaires (including the Trump and Kushner families). When conservatives start howling about these benefits flowing to the rich through the CARES act, they might have some credibility when they complain about those unemployed, through no fault of their own, getting an extra $600 per week.

The current societal problems associated with the homeless population would be greatly exacerbated if thousands of unemployed people were suddenly evicted in the middle of a pandemic. There are various programs to assist the homeless, but conservatives should really prefer the supplemental UI benefit. Other than the existing unemployment office staff and procedures, there is no additional bureaucracy to suck up some of the money. Rather, it is efficient with the money going directly to the unemployed to spend on rent, food, clothes, medical care, etc.

And spend it they did. There is strong evidence that the economy would have been significantly worse off than it was had it not been for the supplemental UI benefits. If we are going to avoid turning families into the streets, but see that landlords get paid, the government needs to do something to help unemployed tenants weather the pandemic-induced recession.

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41 responses to “Another Perspective on Evictions

  1. Pretty objective post that covers most all the bases. Thanks for the time and effort spent writing it up – I know these posts must take a fair amount of time to do.

    One additional aspect is that about a third to 40% of all renters have kids – and what happens to those kids if they get evicted?

    These are often the kids that are disadvantaged, and said to be most at risk in falling even further behind on their education.

    If they become homeless, it seems they’re going from the frying pan into the fire – who knows what “school” they’d be attending if they live in a homeless shelter much less that they would get “in-person” instruction.

    A lot of evictions could end up sending a lot of kids to homeless shelters in places where the schools themselves are not set up for that many in the shelters.

    I suppose it’s possible that homeless shelters have internet and computers and/or perhaps the schools might actually send tutors to the shelters but I suspect probably not.

    Landlords should receive relief also from mortgage payments and perhaps property taxes on their properties.

    • Baconator with extra cheese

      Just give them a Chromebook, a mobile hotspot, and that learnin’ software that’s so easy even autistic kids learn from it that you go on and on about. That’s about $1,500 a year (you said that software is open source and free). No need for schools or teachers. Then we can turn the schools into public housing…

      • “Just give them a Chromebook, a mobile hotspot, and that learnin’ software that’s so easy even autistic kids learn from it … That’s about $1,500 a year (you said that software is open source and free). No need for schools or teachers, (so government) can turn the schools into public housing…”

        I doubt that today’s Virginia state Government could pull that proposal off. It’s way too complicated.

        • Baconator with extra cheese

          The news says Henrico somehow has pulled it off… including the mobile hotspot to those in need… again they spend less than RVA but some how do this and build schools.

  2. After trying to read Dick Sizemore’s mind numbing post, one obvious truth leads to other truths as to what is going on in Virginia.

    Truth #1-

    The Virginia executive branch, and its legislative branch (the General Assembly), are hopelessly incompetent, at sea, indeed under water, in dealing with this eviction issue at hand, along with most all other issues relating to the pandemic or otherwise, such as public safety, health, education, and ethics in government.

    Truth #2 – given the total dysfunction of Virginia’s executive and legislative branches, the Virginia Governor threw a Hail Mary pass to the Virginia Supreme Court, demanding that it undertake executive and legislative functions of Virginia state government regarding landlord / tenant law, particularly eviction laws, so as to rescue and buy votes for the faltering Democratic Party in state wide elections less than three months away.

    Truth #3 – The Virginia Supreme Court, at the Governor’s demand, voted to suspend the rule of eviction law in Virginia, and deprive citizens of the ability use it’s courts with regard to those matters at issue, while the Court under by its own ex parte order assumed for itself the legislative and executive functions of the state in those matters, so as to rescue and win votes for the Democratic party in the upcoming national and state elections, all at the total cost and expense of landlords in the state of Virginia, a loss that will surely put a significant number of those Virginia landlords into grave threats of foreclosure, the loss of their rental properties, and the bankruptcy of their businesses.

    Effective representative government is collapsing across the board in Virginia, whether it be in voting, health, public safety, education, or ethics.

    For yet another example, of this corruption, dysfunction, and collapse, see this below from Just the News, by Nicholas Ballasy, August 8, 2020:

    “Half a million incorrect absentee ballot applications sent across Virginia, including to dead people

    Approximately half a million applications sent to eligible voters in Virginia included incorrect information, and we are working diligently to address the issues,” says the Center for Voter Information.

    A non-profit group says more than a half-million inaccurate applications for absentee ballots were mistakenly sent across Virginia this week — including to dead voters, errant relatives and even a pet — in an unprecedented mailing flub that has heightened concerns about the integrity of expanding mail-in voting efforts.

    The mistakes raised alarms with recipients as diverse as election monitors, members of the League of Women Voters and a retired FBI agent. The Center for Voter Information, the nonprofit group that sent the mailers with pre-filled absentee ballots, is now apologizing.

    The Center for Voter Information said the absentee application mailings were sent to “eligible voters” in the state and “some of the mailers may have directed the return envelopes” for the absentee applications to the wrong election offices.

    The counties impacted by inaccurate mailings included Fairfax City, Fairfax County, Franklin City, Franklin County, Richmond City, Richmond County, Roanoke City and Roanoke County.

    “Approximately half a million applications sent to eligible voters in Virginia included incorrect information, and we are working diligently to address the issues. Mistakes in our programming are very rare, but we take them seriously, and our methods overall are extraordinarily effective,” the center said in a statement. …” End Quote

    For more read Just the News, at:
    https://justthenews.com/politics-policy/elections/virginia-absentee-ballot-applications-sent-dead-people-and-wrong

    • My wife got that mailing and it was 100% correct, and had the correct return address for the absentee ballot application. Not sure how they screwed up their lists, but in some places they clearly did.

    • What does incorrect ballot applications have to do with evictions?

      As for your attempt to depict the Supreme Court decision as partisan, two members of the majority were William Mims and Stephen McCullough. Mims was a Republican member of both the House and Senate from Loudoun. He then was a top deputy to Bob McDonnell in the AG’s office and then succeeded McDonnell to be AG.

      McCullough was a top deputy to AG Ken Cuccinelli. He was later elected to the Supreme Court after the Republican GA rejected McAullife’s interim appointment.

      Update: Justice Arthur Kelsey, who wrote the longer dissenting opinion, was appointed several years ago to the Court of Appeals by Mark Warner. From there, he later ascended to the Supreme Court.

      I am sorry that my post numbed your mind.

      • Yep, spotted that right off. Mims signed it. I don’t often disagree with him, but it does happen.

      • Dick says:
        “Mims was a Republican member of both the House and Senate from Loudoun. He then was a top deputy to Bob McDonnell in the AG’s office and then succeeded McDonnell to be AG.”

        Normal rules never apply in a one party state, particularly a leftist state. Then, if a judge wants to survive politically after his term expires, he’s under extreme pressure from those who rule that state to follow their interests, irrespective of party.

        This problem compounds when General Assemble is controlled by one party controlled by leftists who elect justices to state supreme court with term limits, by majority rules as is case in Virginia.

        As a state, two party representative government in Virginia is failing, like it did for Maryland for last 40 years of 20th century. When that happens representative government fails altogether, particularly so when control of state shifts to leftist activist as case of Virginia, and as threatened throughout American political system.

        • Here again, as to above point, see:

          Will 2021 Be 1984? By Victor Davis Hanson • July 19, 2020

          Cultural revolutions are insidious and not just because they seek to change the way people think, write, speak, and act. They are also dangerous because they are fueled by self-righteous sanctimoniousness, expressed in seemingly innocuous terms such as “social activism,” “equality,” and “fairness.”

          The ultimate aim of the Jacobin, Bolshevik, or Maoist is raw power—force of the sort sought by Hugo Chavez or the Castro dynasty to get rich, inflict payback on their perceived enemies, reward friends, and pose as saviors.

          Cubans and Venezuelans got poor and killed; woke Chavezes and Castros got rich and murderous.

          Leftist agendas are harder to thwart than those of right-wing dictators such as Spain’s Francisco Franco because they mask their ruthlessness with talk of sacrifice for the “poor” and concern about the “weak.”

          Strong-man Baathists, Iranian Khomeinists, and the German National Socialists claimed they hated capitalism. So beware when the Marxist racialists who run Black Lives Matter, the wannabe Maoists of Antifa, the George Soros-paid activists, “the Squad” and hundreds of state and local officials like them in cities such as Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis, and Big Tech billionaires take power. These are “caring” people who couldn’t care less about the working classes or the hundreds of African-Americans murdered in America’s inner cities.

        • I agree that two-party government is best. The Republicans just have to persuade the Virginia voters to elect them to office.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            My words “mind numbing” was not a criticism of your article but complimenting its accuracy in describing the systemic, chronic, and compounding confusions and failures of state government’s handling of pandemic and much else going on in Virginia today, and how it is damaging state.

          • Dick Hall-Sizemore

            OK. Obviously, I misinterpreted your comment.

  3. Dick, Thank you for taking the trouble of addressing what I actually wrote rather than twisting my words out of recognition. That’s always refreshing. But you omitted one important thing. I laid out three “possibilities” for explaining the surge in evictions. And one of them was this: “One possibility is that [tenants] aren’t getting the money. Maybe the Virginia Employment Commission, overwhelmed with unemployment filings, has been slow to push out checks” — which is exactly what you have suggested.

    If it’s taking too long to process and mail the checks, that’s the problem the Northam administration ought to be addressing.

    Other than that one oversight, I think this was a thoughtful piece and a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion.

  4. “The VEC was overwhelmed with claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and did not start taking applications for the $600 weekly supplement until July 2 and issued the first checks on July 7.’

    WRONG

    My daughter applied in early April and received her $600 by mid-month. Another case of pontificators not get some ‘ground truth’ from actual people….

    • I’m glad for her, but the UI system collapsed for many in many states, not just VA. And the newfangled benefit Congress invented for the self-employed didn’t get up and running in VA for weeks and weeks.

      If I own rental property that is MINE, not the government’s. I have a contractual relationship with another person, and the law grants quite a bit of protection to the tenant, but at the end of the day they pay the rent or they must leave the property. Yes, the government itself played a huge role in wrecking the economy and yes, the government can help those people with grants and UI benefits (and should), but eventually the landlords need to get paid. If they do not, that is an unconstitutional taking of private property.

      If the lease is guaranteed by the federal government or some other agency, then perhaps the government can interfere in that private contract. Otherwise, no. (So says a former lobbyist for the Realtors who helped draft a bunch of contract language 20 years ago….) 🙂

      I took a glance that that “eviction tracker.” It tells us that there have been 15,000 cases heard in some time period, and only 20% (3,000) resulted in eviction orders. What it doesn’t tell me at all is how the activity in the summer of 2020 compares to 2019 or 2018, pre-COVID. Maybe it doesn’t want that data out?

      • What about taking private property for a legitimate “public need” ? Seems like Dominion can “take” private property for a “public need” and it’s really for investors.

        also – Don’t most landlords require a security deposit that they keep in things go south?

        • That is a different issue.

        • Taking private property requires compensation. Assuming arguendo that there’s a public purpose for the Commonwealth to condemn rental housing so tenants can stay for cheap or even for free, the Commonwealth has to pay the value of the property to the owners. Where does that money come from?

          Also, rental property pays real estate taxes; rental property owned by the state doesn’t. What would be the impact of Commonwealth ownership of 10%, 20%, 50% or more of the state’s rental property on local budgets?

          I always go back to the wisdom of my Torts professor in Law School, Glen Robinson, who later filled one of the Democratic seats on the FCC. “Every tub must sit on its own bottom.” People need to pay their own way in life. Society can afford to support only so many who don’t.

    • My source was a release from the VEC.

    • My daughter had a similar experience in PA, only she filed 1st week in May. She got the $1200 stimulus at least a month before me, and when she popped down for a visit in early June she was concerned about all of the deposits that were pelting her checking account.

      Yeah, that’s the good news. The bad news is that she STILL hasn’t received her 2019 tax refund.

  5. Funding for Eviction Defense Lawyers ,,,
    Really,,, government once again picking Winners and Losers..
    If government is going to provide lawyers to help tenants, they should also provide lawyers to help Landlords,,,
    But No,,,, essentially landlords get to pay taxes that are then used to pay lawyers to help tenants,,,
    Before you All Knowing Smart Guys start writing about tenants and evictions you should get some experience in the Landlording business and dealing with tenants. You especially need to experience the eviction process landlords have to deal with and the fact that it takes 6 to 8 weeks or longer after rent is due to actually get a tenant out of a rental.

  6. “…conjecture. (One wonders why he would raise these two possibilities if there were no evidence to support them.)”

    It’s in the blood. Started with the President. Oh no, not the current one, but the one who told that Party there was a woman flying from city to city collecting $$MILLIONS$$ in Welfare checks… a veritable “Welfare Queen”, and like all GOP fairy tales, it is a part of the DNA.

  7. “Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.” ― Herman Melville

    BR — Preposterous.

    • Dear NN & Melville, mine are not assumptions about habits of the poor…
      I’ve seen it, I’ve observed it… When someone asks you (this is personal experience) to lend them 100 bucks because there pay check is delayed and you have seen these folk drop 20 bucks on lottery tickets there is no doubt about their bad habit that causes them to have ZERO reserves.
      When a tenant has horses they are feeding and boarding and rent is unpaid is there any question what the bad habit is…
      And the ones that waste money on cigs and beer but don’t have rent,, is there any question…
      With 25+ years of experience I could go on for hours…

      • You DO realize that those of whom we are speaking aren’t the chronically unemployed, right? Wow, the milk of human kindness in your frig needs a date check.

        • Being Chronically Unemployed is not an excuse for being destructive of other people’s property, or making stupid spending decisions such as buying lottery tickets, beer, liquor, big macs, domino pizzas, drugs, coffee at 711, etc.. When you’re poor you need to be smart about your spending… and these are obvious wastes of money….

          • If those people were smart about their spending, they would not be poor.

            That same lack of responsibility that causes them to be destructive of other’s property and and make stupid spending decisions…is likely the same lack of responsibility that prevents them from getting a job that pays more than minimum wage, or even prevents them from getting a job at all.

            This is entirely a result of the trashy, base society that exists in many places where this sort of behavior is not only tolerated, but encouraged.

          • “… aren’t chronically unemployed…”. As in “are not”

      • Being a Virginia landlord certainly gives you an education about the character of some of the people that call this state home.

  8. Where to start? Let’s begin with the US Constitution. Among the many rights provided by the Constitution, two are particularly important here: taking of private property for public use can only occur with just compensation to the private property owner. Refusing to allow the legal process of eviction month after month will certainly allow some renters to stay in a rental property without paying when the landlord could have evicted them and rented the property to a paying tenant. Seems like a taking of private property for public use without compensation to me. The second right in question is due process (5th and 14th amendments). The due process clause acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the government outside the sanction of law. Legal process, in the form of eviction proceedings, is being denied landlords. That seems to be a denial of due process of law.

    The next fallacy is that just because the Virginia state constitution is a garbage document written at the sunset of the Byrd Machine it’s OK for Il Duce Northam to violate the US Constitution using his unlimited emergency powers. As is so often the case with the plantation elite’s thinking the issue becomes what can be done under a badly flawed governance system vs what is the right thing to do. While our garbage constitution allows Northam to practice dictatorial power it doesn’t require him to do so. He could have recalled the General Assembly at any time.

    What should have happened is this … Northam should have recalled the General Assembly and pushed for the passage of an emergency tax hike to pay for the various forms of wealth transfer he wants to implement. For example, people who can’t make their rent payments would be able to borrow or be given funds raised by the special tax hike in order to pay their rent. In the mind of a liberal the impacts of COVID-19 are not the fault of renters. In the mind of a libertarian those impacts aren’t anybody’s fault – certainly not the fault of landlords. If society is to support poor tenants then society at large should pay for that protection. Of course, raising taxes would the kind of honest behavior that Northam and his Democratic majority have studiously avoided in favor of hidden subsidies.

    Finally, the incompetence of Ralph Northam is the gift that keeps on giving. As Dick writes, “The Virginia Employment Commission was overwhelmed with claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and did not start taking applications for the $600 weekly supplement until July 2 and issued the first checks on July 7.” In the modern world the ability for any large organization to react to change is based on computing systems. Telecoms companies kept the internet up and running despite a deluge of work from home video-conferencing. Amazon accelerated ordering and delivery. Grocery stores and other retailers implemented effective curbside pickup operations. This was largely accomplished through structurally sound and flexible computing systems. In what will surprise nobody the Virginia Employment Commission melted like butter on top of a hot stack of pancakes. Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Health still can’t publish basic COVID-19 data correctly and on a timely basis. Virginians need to rely on that data to make sensible decisions. Early in his tenure Northam decided to demote the Secretary of Technology off the cabinet. Instead, he should have expanded the position to include ensuring that Virginia’s computing systems are ready to handle the unpredictable world in which we live. But Northam is a prince of Virginia’s plantation elite who never did see much future in “them new fangled computatin’ thangs”.

    Elect a the kind of buffoon who, as an adult in the 1980s, wears blackface to parties accompanied by a date in klan robes and get a governor who, as an adult, continues to be a buffoon.

    • Well, thanks to pathetic opposition research by feckless Republicans (it was hardly his first election, right?) we had no idea about that! 🙂 One assumes yearbooks are back on the standard checklist now, along with traffic and divorce records…..

    • Where to start? First, no one’s property has been taken. The rents are still due. The Northam government is trying to devise ways to enable unemployed tenants to pay those rents.

      Again, you attack the Virginia constitution without pointing out any specific defects, only that it was adopted at the “sunset of the Byrd machine.” Recently, I went through the members of the Constitutional commission, noting that several were not associated with the Byrd machine. (I can’t find that comment now,)

      Northam’s emergency powers are not conferred by the state constitution. It is based on statutory law.

      I can just imagine the howls that would have gone up on this website if Northam has asked for a tax hike.

      There is little excuse for the VEC. As I have noted earlier, the agency received authorization and appropriation years ago to upgrade its automated systems and is just now getting around to finishing it.

      • Your assumption that landlords will eventually be made whole is heart-warming, but I see no basis for that. Somebody could end up in bankruptcy in the meantime. Yes, in theory the rent will be due in full with the contracted interest and penalties. If they can’t pay month to month how will they cover a year in arrears? When in a hole….stop digging.

        There very well may be a case for a tax increase at the end of this. Certainly the federal government has created a financial morass, but the problem is any more money to those idiots will never be used to pay down debt. I could (possibly) have more confidence the state would use the additional revenue to right the ship. As mentioned before, substantial tax hikes will be imposed to rebuild the state’s side of the unemployment insurance system.

  9. Baconator with extra cheese

    Maybe we’ll get lucky enough to have Dr Northam declare that we must bring families into our own homes. I can imagine them using the census vs property records to determine that those who are overly privileged have a few additional bedrooms unoccupied. And then slam another eviction moratorium down and you now have an extended family!

  10. Larry the G writes.. “also – Don’t most landlords require a security deposit that they keep in things go south?”
    This is a good example of a Know Nothing Smart Guy.
    You obviously have never been in the rental business… Security deposits rarely cover costs, not to mention valuable time wasted, frustration and getting new and hopefully better tenants..
    Thankfully I’ve never had to do many evictions, deposit never came close to clean up costs not to mention the typical two month loss in rental income or time dealing with clerk of the court, sitting in court, continuance etc… and as I mentioned courts are just about zero help getting money from evicted tenant who is typically driving around in a car that is nicer than mine!!!

    • A security deposit is typically 1 months rent. It doesn’t take much in the way of busted up doors and drywall for the damage repair costs to exceed the security deposit.

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