KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide eviction moratorium means no renter can get kicked out before the end of the year even if he or she isn’t paying rent.
With record unemployment and millions without income because of the pandemic, housing is one of the biggest concerns for Americans.
Metro property owner Myeisha Wright took FOX4 inside an evicted unit to show the mess a tenant left behind, and to explain how the moratorium leaves landlords financially unsheltered.
The CDC issued the ban September 3 for medical reasons; to prevent the increased risk of spreading COVID-19 if renters were to get put out without a home or a place to quarantine.
Wright said the troubles for her tenant near 57th Street and Bales began long before the pandemic.
Walking through the now empty 1100-square foot unit, the landlord pointed out dirty damaged walls, stained carpets, missing appliances. Wright said even though the tenant left behind mounds of trash which included baby pictures.
“They stole the washer and dryer. That happens a lot.” She continued, “You can see the holes in the walls here. That’s not just a patch job, that’s a paint job. We have to recut all that to make a perfect square,” Wright said.
She said the mess he left behind only adds insult to injury since Wright said the tenant was collecting $600 a week in boosted unemployment. She said the day the deputies came, the renter was loading things up in a new Ford Focus. “Brand new car was here. When we pulled stuff out, we were pulling out huge furniture, newer things, that kind of stuff,” Wright said.
Wright knows of course, COVID-19 has financially crushed a lot of people. But she said telling renters they don’t have to pay right now, and that they don’t have to leave, threatens to put her and other property owners in that same position. Contractors quoted repairs to make this unit rent-ready again at more than $6,000.
Pointing to stacks of printed Excel documents, Wright said, “We were only making about $4,000 total annually on this unit. Just looking at how much it’s going to cost to make ready this unit, there’s my profit there for the year.”
She also believes there’s a false narrative that landlords are lining up outside courthouses to kick out renters. Of those facing eviction before the ban she said, “It really only affected people that were already struggling with rent.
Whether CDC or COVID, these people were already behind or already had issues in paying and keeping up regularly for this. All the COVID economic impact did was make it worse.” She said by the time she started filing eviction for this tenant, he was more than 10 months behind in rent; more than $5,000.
Wright said she works with each renter and provides a list of resources people can capitalize on if they find themselves in financial trouble. She also said open communication is the best way to work through any concerns with your landlord.
“There are people who do it the right way, and then there are people who choose not to do it the right way; those are usually the ones who take advantage of moratoriums like this,” Wright said. “We need you to be giving something in to us in order for us to allow you to continue to stay here. But when you reach balances of this high, there’s no way you can make up from that, especially when these months before I was giving you those resources to help with your rent payment and you weren’t taking advantage.”
KC Tenants is a metro group that supports the CDC’s eviction moratorium. Supporters have been vocal about their efforts to provide accessible, affordable healthcare. Read KC Tenants COVID Response.