JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the Mississippi Apartment Association (MAA) said they have received calls by many asking for landlords not to evict non-paying tenants after the eviction moratorium expires on Saturday, July 31.
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced it will allow a nationwide ban on evictions to expire Saturday, arguing that its hands are tied after the Supreme Court signaled it could only be extended until the end of the month.
MAA released the following statement:
MAA appreciates hearing that rental assistance funds are now finally being dispensed, even if slowly, to those who applied after Mississippi’s program went live in March of 2021. The fact of the matter, however, is that continued delay will not guarantee timely payment of rental assistance benefits. The federal guidelines and document requirements associated with this program have made it incredibly difficult for tenants to complete applications. Far too many tenants are in limbo with incomplete, unapproved applications and no clear direction on how to proceed. Asking landlords – many of whom have tenants that have not paid much if any rent in the 17-plus months since the COVID-emergency was first declared in March of 2020 – to wait longer is not a realistic option for all landlords at this point.
From the very beginning of the COVID emergency, MAA actively called for landlords to find creative and compassionate solutions to keep tenants who had lost their jobs or had their take-home incomes reduced. Our members, which own and operate a significant portion of the state’s 350,000 renter households in Mississippi, fully embraced this approach.
MAA also called out non-members who tried to get around the thoughtful eviction moratoriums put in place, early in this crisis, by the Governor and Congress in the federal CARES Act. While most apartment residents have worked hard to pay their rent, even if a month or two behind, some stopped paying altogether despite stimulus checks and greater unemployment benefits.
Despite wonderful intentions, the mere promise of rental assistance benefits is not a workable solution for landlords with ever-mounting unpaid rent rolls. Fast forward to today, many landlords have not received any of Mississippi’s $186 million shares of rental assistance benefits. And most of the tenants who were struggling to pay rent in 2020 are still having difficulty paying rent in 2021, forcing landlords to again confront the decision of whether to evict non-paying tenants.
Many hold the misguided assumption all landlords immediately seek eviction of someone as soon as they have the smallest of unpaid rent balances. This is simply not true. The vast majority of apartment owners and operators in Mississippi – many of whom are individuals with small operations trying to make their own mortgage payments – need tenants, have demonstrated compassion for their fellow citizens during this crisis, and will continue to do so. These same apartment owners and operators are, nevertheless, faced with difficult choices about those tenants who stopped paying rent during the COVID crisis, some of whom may owe well over an entire year’s worth of rent.Mississippi Apartment Association (MAA)
MAA recognizes the difficulties that landlords and tenants have had to face during the COVID pandemic. If a tenant is struggling to pay rent, we encourage them to speak with their landlord and to discuss options, which for some may include attempting to quickly file and take all the steps necessary to complete the rental assistance application. At the end of the day, however, some landlords may be forced to pursue evictions as a measure of last resort in these unprecedented times to get a paying tenant in place. Landlords who need to make the decision to proceed with an eviction must be allowed to do so since quick payment of rental assistance benefits – particularly for tenants that have not yet applied – is anything but a sure thing.