We’ve come across yet another story out of New York City where the looming eviction crisis and the government’s inept response to it have managed to take down a landlord rather than a tenant. Following what is now becoming a familiar pattern, this is the story of how Shawna Eccles went from being an aspiring property owner to living in her car. In February of 2019, Eccles purchased a run-down, two-family home in Brooklyn spending all of her savings to modernize it. When the work was completed, she drew up a lease and rented it to Sharita Patterson and her children. That’s when the pandemic hit. Soon, Patterson stopped paying her rent. Eccles began negotiating to find a way to get Patterson out of the apartment voluntarily. Then matters went from bad to worse. (NY Post)
Without any rental income for months, Eccles thought she was close to a legal settlement with Patterson in December. Believing Patterson was about to vacate, she rented the home’s first floor to an elderly woman and moved out to temporarily live with friends.
When Patterson backed out at the last minute, and signed the hardship declaration, Eccles was essentially left homeless.
One neighbor said, “I have seen her in the car in the driveway.”
Another neighbor, who has heard the two women arguing, said, “It’s very unfortunate. She said she was the first in her family to buy a house.
Eccles had been living in the downstairs apartment of her building while renting out the upper floor. When she agreed to rent out her own portion in anticipation of moving into the unit Patterson was supposedly vacating, she no longer had an address of her own. But Patterson backed out of the deal and signed a “hardship declaration” form, essentially making her immune to any eviction or other action by her landlord. She did this despite owing Eccles nearly $15,000 dollars. Still, according to court papers, she somehow managed to buy a brand new car during the same period. Also, the Department of Social Services offered Patterson rental assistance to allow her to find and move into a new apartment. Patterson declined their offer.
We’re going to keep hearing these stories for as long as the eviction moratoriums are in place. We’ve already discussed the tale of David Howson, who was being evicted from his own building back in January because his tenants had stopped paying rent and could not be evicted. A similar situation took down Ignatious “Bill” Pantano, who rented his property to someone who never made a single payment (starting before the pandemic) and refused to leave. Pantano’s entire retirement savings were soon wiped out.
The eviction moratoriums have been extended multiple times now, both at the federal and state or municipal levels. Tenants all across the country are falling into massive amounts of debt to back-rent that they will likely never be able to pay, assuming they even intend to try. Landlords are wiping out their savings keeping up with the bills that keep coming due even when they have no rental income to keep them afloat. So what happens when the moratoriums finally end?
That part is looking increasingly obvious and depressing. There are only two ways for this to go, at least as far as I can see. One is that the government simply lets the moratorium expire and then millions of eviction proceedings will begin. Those will drag on for months, but the tenants will eventually be put out of their dwellings with a terrible reference from their landlords, making finding a new home difficult. Meanwhile, most of the mom-and-pop, small-business landlords will be bankrupt or close to it and end up losing their property anyway.
The only other option is that the government at every level will begin to panic at the idea of being responsible for such a catastrophe and pass another bailout costing trillions of dollars to forgive the rent of all those tenants and restore the money to the landlords. And that means that after rushing into these eviction moratoriums with no plan as to how the situation would need to be managed, they will hand that staggering bill to the taxpayers to cover, along with untold generations of their children. It’s just another case of your brilliant government leaders in action.