Residential Evictions Bearing Down on Many Tenants

As we’ve been saying on several fronts, winter is coming, and that includes the January 1 expiration of the Presidential order barring residential evictions. If Trump loses next week’s election, he presumably wont’ extend it even the few weeks to the end of his term, and Biden has not made any noise about taking measures to keep people who’ve suffered income hits under Covid housed.

And if Team Dem’s fallback is a stimulus bill under Biden, good luck with that. It’s unlikely that citizens would get cash before early March, and even that charitably assumes the relief would be large enough to make up for months of no or inadequate income. Nolo provides a summary of each state’s eviction laws; you can see they are all short-trigger.

And that’s before getting to the fact that the CDC eviction moratorium wasn’t comprehensive (for instance, it didn’t address month-to-month rentals) and that it calls on tenants to make attestations, which some landlords are challenging. From MarketWatch last week:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide eviction ban has been in effect for nearly two months — but landlords and tenants alike are still trying to figure out how the moratorium works and what protections it offers…

The moratorium’s protections were not granted automatically to all tenants. Instead, renters essentially have to opt in by notifying their landlord with a signed affidavit that they cannot afford their full monthly rental payments…..

Because renters need to be proactive to receive protection under the moratorium, those who don’t do so can still face eviction. Since the moratorium was first announced in early September, the country has seen nearly 9,500 eviction filings by private-equity firms and other corporate landlords, according to data from the Private Equity Stakeholder Project. These represent filings in just five states: Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

And the number has trended up recently — in the week ending Oct. 16 there were nearly 2,000 eviction cases filed, which was nearly double the number from the previous two weeks.

New guidance from the Trump administration suggests that even tenants who fill out the required affidavit could be taken to court by their landlord.

Even so, it appears that most renters in arrears are getting a stay of execution until January, where the prospects for landlords giving relief don’t look great. As the Wall Street Journal reports, a lot of tenants are already borrowing on their credit cards to try to keep from falling too far behind. Yet given the way Covid-19 has hit broad swathes of middle and lower income workers, such as restaurant and hotel employees, trainers, beauty salon operators and owners, it’s not clear how evicting landlords expect to find creditworthy replacements, even at lower rental levels. From the Journal:

A large number of renters have been unable to pay some or even all of their rent since March, when the pandemic temporarily shut down most businesses. Many businesses remain closed or only partially open, pushing renters into unemployment and draining their savings….

A study of unemployed workers released last week by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia calculated outstanding rent debt would reach $7.2 billion before the close of 2020. Moody’s Analytics estimates that it could reach nearly $70 billion by year-end if there is no additional stimulus spending. The economic-research firm calculated that 12.8 million Americans would then owe an average of $5,400 from missed payments.

Even the larger figure would be far less than what was lost when the $1.3 trillion subprime-mortgage bubble burst, leading to a national wave of defaults and foreclosures. But the tens of millions of people potentially caught in a web of home-rental debt and eviction would far exceed the 3.8 million homeowners who were foreclosed on in 2007-2010.

Another difference is that the foreclosure crisis played out over time. Some foreclosures were triggered early on by resets of subprime “teaser” loans, which were intended to trigger a refi, but none were to be had after the subprime market shut and housing prices were falling, particularly in the Sunbelt states that saw the frothiest lending. More defaults followed as a result of financial crisis job losses or cuts in hours.

Moreover, foreclosures proceeded at different speeds in different states. Generally speaking, in “title theory” states, the lender holds the deed until the final payment is made. There’s thus no need for a title transfer to execute a foreclosure; the typical process is to notify the borrower and advertise. In lien theory or judicial foreclosures states, by contrast, the borrower has the title to the property but the bank has a lien on the home. The lender thus needs to go to court to foreclose, which takes more time.

And a final factor that spread foreclosures out was the Treasury’s half-hearted rescue efforts, which Treasury Secretary Geithner told SIGTARP chief Neil Barofsky was intended to “foam the runway” for banks as opposed to help homeowners.

By contrast, unless Something Happens before January 1, and that seems unlikely, evictions will start full bore in the new year. Back to the Journal:

But about a quarter of American renter households with children are now carrying debt from not paying rent, U.S. Census Bureau surveys show…

Mounting rental debt could also impede the path to a U.S. economic recovery, when 30 million to 40 million people from New York City to San Francisco face potential eviction once moratoriums expire….

In the early weeks of the pandemic, many renters tried to scrape together their rent by borrowing money from friends or family. Some moved to credit cards, which could mean the total debt tied to rent is greater than what can be counted from missed payments alone.

Credit payments to small and medium-size businesses connected to rental real estate increased by more than 70% in the spring, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. The data showed that through the fall these payments have remained some 50% higher than during the same period in 2019….

Other renters falling behind are now on payment plans arranged with their landlords, allowing them to pay small minimum amounts each month. Some landlords are charging punitive late fees on top of what is already owed, making the debt higher than just the face value of the rent.

The article adds that many landlords won’t forgive the amounts owed and will seek to garnish wages and assets.

The Journal comments section was disheartening. Even though there were some who advocated for sharing the pain, the “hate the poors” remarks were vicious. For instance:

Howard S
Single mothers are suddenly discovering why its good to have a responsible husband who works and supports his family before you start making babies. Bad decisions have bad consequences.

Richard B

The government, especially an agency like the CDC, has no business dictating the terms of private real estate contracts!

It’s called Capitalism. Save for a rainy day and don’t buy that 75 inch LED 4K TV or lease a brand new car.

Others pointed out collateral damage of the moratoriums (scarcity of rentals in some areas due to lack of turnover as tenants stayed in place) and the reluctance of landlords to accept reduced rents despite the collapse in incomes in their market.

But more serious is the lack of willingness to discuss this looming train wreck, let alone build consensus around policy proposals. Unless something changes, the level of evictions that appears likely for 2021 will be greater than anything the US has seen since the Great Depression. The CDC invoked public health powers for a reason. Homeless living on the streets or in encampments with no or few toilets and showers is a great way to propagate more disease, like hepatitis A and B, tuberculosis, and typhus.

But the Democrats, as they did with the foreclosure crisis, seem to think the solution to every problem is better PR. So perhaps they’ve persuaded themselves that if members of the press don’t pay much attention to millions being turfed out of their dwellings by Covid-caused loss of income, they can pretend it isn’t happening.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. dcblogger

    When the United States wants to overthrow a government we generally make the economy scream and for reasons best known to themselves, the American kleptocracy has decided to make our economy scream. We could have bailed out everyone, instead we have decided to destabilize ourselves.

    1. Anonymous

      … the American kleptocracy has decided to make our economy scream. dcblogger

      That’s an optimistic viewpoint since it implies that they can reverse that decision. But what if they can’t? What if they are trapped by the system too? Or are blind to potential disaster? Or really believe TINA?

      1. Mikel

        They are more like 19th Century Social Darwinists (who never acknowledged their parasitic nature).

        Yes, they really believe in TINA because they have zero imagination and their status depends on their ability to protect the wealth of the usual suspects.

      2. Mikel

        And they know they see how much they are despised since they created all these fine surveillance tools.

      3. JBird4049

        It is worse than that. The slightly aware are counting on the American police that have all that military hardware including weapons.

        Perhaps the somewhat more aware are thinking of what the United States did to others it can do to itself. All those coups that the CIA and the State Department did were not successful because the population and other politicians liked it. They succeeded because extreme and very effective violence including mass murder was used by the usually American trained military, security or police forces. Anyone deemed of the left or what was/is equivalent to the extreme rightwing of the current American Republican Party was targeted for various combinations of torture, rape, murder/disappearance, prison, or deportation. This sometimes included family members.

        So yeah, plenty of politicians are clueless and often don’t realize how bad it is or just what the blowback is likely to be; however, there are certainly enough Americans in the security state who do and there is probably an Americanized version of “Operation Condor” being updated as I type this.

        I do not think that there is a cabal that wants to impoverish or murder mass numbers of Americans. It is just that the rage caused by the destructiveness of the short term greed, the ill thought ideology justifying the greed, and personal fear will give emotional justification to anyone who does bring the wars home and commit these atrocities.

    2. Cat Burglar

      OK, so they want us to hold global hegemony. But I never got how they intend to do that heading a nation that is increasingly poor, sick, substance abusing, houseless, and dying of despair.

  2. Anonymous

    So much for the resilience of an economic system that exploits others (via rent, debt and wage slavery).

    “Efficient” it may have been but just it hasn’t been for centuries.

    Let’s hope we have the wisdom to peacefully repent.

      1. flora

        The successful protest movements like the US Civil Rights movement and Mahatma Gandhi’s movement for India’s independence were very successful.

        They remained peaceful even as they got the wind beat out of them by the ruling classes, which so revulsed the larger public that the peaceful protestors won.

        (One reason provocateurs push peaceful protestors toward violent action is to undermine public support, imo.)

        1. Bazarov

          This is I think blinkered–in the modern context, nonviolence as a strategy requires a public that is itself decent enough to be revolted by the state’s violent reaction.

          In the case of the US Civil Rights Movement, decency arose from the general easy, security, and prosperity that comes from a Golden Age. When people are happy, they find it easier to empathize.

          The American people are not happy. It’s harder and harder for us to empathize with each other. Life is not easy, secure, and prosperous. It’s brutish, and it makes brutish people who revel in violence against the weak.

          As for the Indian Independence, this occurred in far different circumstances–the British Empire was collapsing. It was incredibly weak, lacking the means and will it had in the past to crush a rebellion.

          You start to see how ridiculous “non-violence” is as a means of resistance when you apply it to revolutionary contexts where it is obvious suicide. For example, in the case of the Jews or Communists against the Nazis, non-violence would’ve been farcical.

          Moreover, the “nonviolence” philosophy is used today as a means of promoting “color revolution”-style regime change at the behest of neoliberal America and its neoliberal cronies. See Gene Sharp:

          1. dcblogger

            This is I think blinkered–in the modern context, nonviolence as a strategy requires a public that is itself decent enough to be revolted by the state’s violent reaction.

            no, non violence does not rely on the conscience of the oppressors, it relies on the coercive power of non-cooperation. The power structure of Montgomery Alabama did not back down because their conscience was pricked, it backed down because the lack of bus fare forced them to back down. Plenty of other examples.

            1. JBird4049

              I think it is more complex than that. Two things to note: the powerful usually depend a lot on the tacit support of the ruled often this includes people from the outside. Also non-violent protests are like the beginning of a fight or a peaceful discussion.

              We have all seen someone call out someone else. It could be over the right to vote, a girl, or just the dirty dishes. It is a dance.

              Peaceful protests are like the call out. How the called responds decides the next steps. Ask what up, talk smack, or just punch the man. Most riots in the United States are caused by the police. There’s a peaceful protests. The riot police come out to deal with the peaceful “rioters.” Some people get beaten by the police. Out come the rocks, then the teargas, and finally the Molotov cocktails. When the police are not deployed in full riot gear, riots tend to not happen because the police did not give the protesters permission to riot. This sequence happens from the neighborhood kids up to countries.

              As for the support seeing Bull Connor’s attack dogs rip into children and the church bombing by the Klan in Birmingham also helped. Bigots people might be, but somethings are emotionally just wrong. It’s like the Fugitive Slave Act in the early nineteenth century which forced Northerns to see the slavery. Americans were far more racist then than now, but somethings you just should not do to other people.

              The dogs (and the earlier slave catchers) helped drain the tacit support for, or “benign“ neglect of the system’s evils. That started the collapse in the former and the war in the latter.

              I can also point to the 1919 Amritsar massacre in India as the start of the end of the Raj that occurred in 1947. It created a change of mood towards independence.

              Peaceful protests by themselves might be mostly ineffective, but it is how the powers that be reacts to them that is important; violence will usually create violence or a hardened of demands while peaceful reaction to the protests will reduce the tension and often a softening of the demands.

              All this might look just silly, but human beings are probably wired for this. The challenge, the jumping around and making noises, the usually metaphorical chest thumping, the shorta first punch, and finally the actual fight. I swear we’re just like the chimpanzees or some local villagers. Fists, batons, or main battle tanks. All the same pattern, but you are more likely to win if you do that dance, which is what those non-violent protesters did in Birmingham. Whoever throws the first punch in a non-violent situation loses much strength and gives much strength to the peaceful side. That is what those police dogs did.

          2. fwe'zy

            Yes, Gandhi and the already-leaving British were horses in harness in that charade.

            Moreover, the “nonviolence” philosophy is used today as a means of promoting “color revolution”-style regime change at the behest of neoliberal America and its neoliberal cronies. See Gene Sharp:

        2. TimmyB

          The US nonviolent civil rights movement was successful in part because legal apartheid system it overthrew was limited to the South. If the entire country had the South’s Jim Crow laws, it would have been a different story.

          Please note that once Dr. King moved on from the issue of discrimination in the US South and began focusing on nation-wide issues such as poverty and the Vietnam War, he lost much of his support.

        1. JBird4049

          Except that too much of our “meritocracy” apparently are libertarians who believe in socialism for the wealthy and the stick for everyone else. There are plenty of commenters including the owners of this site who are far, far more knowledgeable about this; the abelieves that a country’s money’s worth is based on the gold standard and is not fiat instead. For them we cannot afford to spend more money, so we cannot have nice things, because we don’t have any money. That the government has spent 4.5 trillion dollars of which less than a trillion went to the unemployed, leaving the economy to slowly collapse doesn’t matter. Because the money that

          1. fwe'zy

            Finish your comment, please! It’s a good one ? to counter the scarcity lie’s vise grip on our commonwealth.

  3. Minalin

    Ok, this is indeed dire. I don’t think either party has much compassion with regard to the people’s general welfare, much less the use of debt forgiveness and the use of MMT. So, then, what is it that we want and how are we going to get it. Only answers that get things done need apply. So, if everyone applied for Chapter 13 relief and then when that doesn’t get approved; reapply as as a chapter seven. That tactic will buy you 7-8 months of paying no one. Using chapter 11 is better if you have the assets to protect. Also maximum pressure must then be put in Congress to change bankruptcy law as to discharge rent/mortgages/ (students loans but focus is important) retroactively and not be forced to move, lose equity, or have any liens applied. The critical success factor is millions must do this. It will work.

    1. jsn

      A good restatement of “the collective action problem.”

      What institutions can we create to make this idea practicable?

      1. Odysseus

        What institutions can we create to make this idea practicable?

        Debts that can’t be paid won’t be paid. So first, we need to be honest about who in practice is on a sustainable path.

        Individuals can still write contracts. Peer to Peer lending in the model of LendingClub, Prosper, Kiva, and other sites can do a lot of good for people who currently pay high interest rates. We need an P2P site that doesn’t “assign” an interest rate based on credit rating.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Are you assuming everyone can effectively file their own legal declarations of bankruptcy? If not, will a sufficient number of lawyers be willing to work on this national bankruptcy project for the remuneration the down-and-out can afford to pay them? Do we have enough judges and court time in the bankruptcy courts?

      1. Minalin

        It is not hard to file the paperwork. In addition there is in each court district a lawyer assigned to pro se (doing it yourself) filers. Each court as well as step by step instructions, but I don’t think it would be that hard to set a web with chat or voice options to step people through this. Judges in the districts were I have used these tactics (about 17 times) are for the most part pretty forgiving about filing mistakes. The name of the game is buying time. In addition you don’t need to be a lawyer to help another person even in court, although it a good idea not to take money for such help.

        1. kareninca

          I have a friend here in Silicon Valley who desperately needs to file for bankruptcy. She is very smart and capable and hard working; she tells me that she absolutely can’t do it herself; that she needs a lawyer for it to actually happen. I realize that this is an anecdote but I am really skeptical about the ability of people to do their own legal work. And the judges around here are not necessarily helpful; I have heard credible accounts of corrupt judges in this area.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Yes, bankruptcy is complicated and you do not want to do it on your own, particularly since she is presumably higher income and would have to file for Chapter 13, which requires working out a draconian 60 month repayment plan (so draconian you eat ramen and you can’t have any emergencies).

      2. Dwight

        Attorneys have to certify bankruptcy filings and are subject to sanctions. Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (thanks Joe) made this much worse for debtors and their attorneys, and forced bankruptcy attorneys to raise rates to cover the heightened responsibility.

  4. AnonyMouse

    Outstanding rent debt: $7.2bn per Fed Reserve Philadelphia

    Funding raised by short-lived, pointless app Quibi: $1.75bn
    Funding raised by short-lived, ludicrous Softbank bubble WeWork: $13.7bn
    Funding raised by short-lived, ludicrous robot pizza maker company Zume Pizza: $400m
    Uber losses in 2019: $8.5bn

    All of these sickos in the WSJ comments section complaining about money being used to bail out ordinary people who have somehow “failed at capitalism” by losing their jobs in the midst of a global pandemic and massively disruptive economic shutdown don’t seem to mind when everyone involved in these failing enterprises walks away with millions in their pay-packets in spite of it all.

    They didn’t even get killed by COVID! They collapsed at the peak of the pre-COVID bubble!

    1. ChrisFromGeorgia

      Don’t forget back in May/June WeWork stiffed their own CRE landlords by refusing to pay their rent, while demanding that the sub lettors who owed them pay up. They may still be doing so.

      And let’s not forget the $25M in CARES act welfare for airlines that allowed them to make payroll courtesy of the taxpayers, so they could keep their crappy companies stock prices above zero.

      1. Arizona Slim

        In other words, those freelancers and others who rented desks in WeWork spaces are supposed to pay up for a place that’s no longer safe to go to? Yeesh!

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Generally, I haven’t heard of rent being forgiven for any businesses. The small practice I belong to continues to pay rent for a suite of rooms in a professional building none of us actually use anymore—support staff uses the office (though sometimes they work from home too) but we do teletherapy from home. When I asked, I was told we had a 5-year lease and it doesn’t end until 2022.

          Luckily with the PPP loan we were able to pay the rent and one FT, one PT salary. And now there’s lots of demand for therapy so we are back to being as busy as ever. We are looking into the equipment we would need to make it safe for each therapist to have a few office visits a week, staggered, because some patients just haven’t been able to make the transition to online.

          We will need air purifiers for each office with HEPA filters, exhaust fans at the windows, and something makeshift to provide filtration at the point of entry of building air into the suite.

          So far I don’t think the building owners are doing anything re ventilation though they have stepped up disinfection of surfaces.

          We’re all in this boat, aren’t we? Though being privileged to be able to work from home we don’t have it nearly as bad as others…

  5. Amfortas the hippie

    the Other Shoe


    this worries me more than even the possibility of post election civil strife…which, of course, it will likely provoke.
    and those heartless Randian comments are not uncommon, but pop up in comments sections everywhere.
    sitting by the woodstove last night, listening to the sleet on the metal roof, I thought about all the homeless folks i’ve seen on our routine chemo excursions.
    there’s too many of them in “normal times”…a rather profound indictment of all of us….

  6. LowellHighlander

    Regarding the Democrats’ typical solution (i.e. better PR): It looks as though Battling Biden will turn into one hell of a battle.

    I’m voting for the Greens’ Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. This entire system needs to be shaken to its core, and voting such is a peaceable way to do it.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I voted early for the Green POTUS and VPOTUS candidates. [Family blog] the duopoly parties and their corporate candidates. I’m done with ’em.

      1. Alex Cox

        This is a very good article. I considered sending it to a couple of friends who will be voting for Biden, who has no plan to address the coming tsunami of homelessness.

        But you know what? It wouldn’t make any difference to them. Their only concern is to replace the Republican dotard with the Democrat one.

        If the price to pay is 30-40 million more homeless people, apparently that’s worth it.

  7. timbers

    As a kind-of-sort-of-landlord of small stature, I do find this stroke of the pen ending rent to be borne entirely by the small landlords a bit amazing. Isn’t that unconstitutional taking of property by the government? Or don’t small landlords count because they don’t have a powerful enough lobby in Washington to give Hunter Biden a few million for doing nothing? Why hasn’t the Federal government provided funding so as not to unjustly take people’s property? Are property rights only meant to be for the Hunter Bidens and the rich and connected?

    Disclosure: I have a single family split level home and don’t need all the space, which lends itself to an easy 2 residence without lifting a finger or nail or wall. I never have a payment issue. Part of that may be if the rent is not paid, it can be impossible to avoid the person in the same single family.

    1. Upwithfiat

      Why hasn’t the Federal government provided funding so as not to unjustly take people’s property? timbers

      We still seem to be hampered by Gold Standard thinking as if fiat were still expensive.

      Reminds me of what Alan Greenspan said: “We have learned to make fiat behave like gold.”

      And why would that be necessary except we cling to the obsolete, inherently-thieving Gold Standard banking model?

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      i trade room and board for labor, subject to consensus and overweighting fairness to them.
      but yeah…that stood out to me.
      it also stood out that “landlord” is treated like a monolith, as if Blackrock = Timbers.
      age old muddling of “small business” with Raytheon is in play, here.
      i reckon Blackrock, and that ilk, can afford to take a haircut.
      actual “small landlords” should be included in the gubmint largesse along with the renters.
      maybe just by paying the damned rent.

      1. nick

        That’s nice of you but as small landlords are a heterogeneous bunch you’ll find more than a few that allow terrible conditions and worse tenant treatment too.

        Of course the big boys should be nationalized and run for the good of the occupants (at least), but small landlords are rentiers too and hopefully can catch a haircut through all this.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          we have a couple of three bonefied slumlords around here who hang out at the property tax office and are ready to go when a house in the Barrio makes it to the courthouse steps and the sheriff’s sale.
          then minor cosmetic changes for the appearances, and charge through the nose.
          but it’s easier to define “small landlord”(altho we have great difficulty,lol) than it is to determine who among them is evil.
          again, land reform.
          for a better world.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe small landlords are one of the targets of the Government’s policies. The renters are collateral damage.

      1. Dirk77

        What is your reasoning? And whatever it is, could it apply to the small businesses suffering going on now too?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          My reasoning is based on the idea that small scale landlords and small businesses must meet certain cash flows to remain in business. They have relatively limited access to loans and relatively small war-chests. The Corona pandemic shutdown much of the economy creating high levels of unemployment and reducing the incomes of individuals and of most businesses. The liabilities of individuals and businesses remain unaltered. The CARES Act propped up Big Money but offered a small short-term sop to individuals and small businesses. The CARES Act established a colossal relatively long-term pool of money offered at an extremely low cost to Big Money. The CARES Act also initiated a debt balloon for individuals and small landlords with the variously applied moratoriums on rents and mortgage payments. However, in a small kindness, it did block the accrual of the many penalties creditors like pile on to late payments.

          I recall a post indicating roughly half the landlords in NYC were individuals and the other half of the landlords were Big Money interests. I believe the individual landlords will be much less able to weather the income losses from evicting tenants and swallowing their rent debt balloons. Big Money interests have bigger war-chests, more lawyers to drive evictions and get the last drop of blood from debtor tenants. Big Money interests can tap into the low-cost money the CARES Act made available to them to cherry pick the best properties from small landlords and later benefit from the rent increases they can drive as they control a larger share of the rentals market for the better properties.

          I think the same kind of reasoning applies to small businesses. Many are tied to long-term leases, and other liabilities. As their income streams cave their cash-flow needs remain relatively fixed — unless they shed employees, hours, inventories, and services — which further reduces income. Big Money competitors can step in to cherry-pick or just enjoy their greater share of the market as small businesses fail or close.

          I cannot claim to have originated this chain of reasoning. I believe it represents what I have been able to absorb from NakedCapitalism. If you spot flaws in the reasoning — they are flaws in how well I grasped and absorbed the lessons presented here.

  8. jsn

    Integrated problems require integrated solutions.

    We haven’t done that since Nixon, the last Liberal president (EPA, fiscal stabilizers).

    If you’re lucky Blackrock will buy some laws that are loose enough to cover you. Wrong place wrong time: consider your options quickly. I got crushed 08-10 and managed to recover, but if I’d acted quicker it would have been easier.

  9. Larry

    Governor Baker and the Massachusetts State legislature recently let our eviction bans expire this month, with a slap dash group of measures to try and help people who will now face eviction/homelessness:

    Marty Walsh is promising to further freeze evictions in Boston, indicating that this problem will now largely fall on the shoulders of already beleaguered city mayors.

    The true solution is to make banks eat the temporary costs. Freeze mortgages and rental payments for the duration of the pandemic. The Federal Reserve at least has mechanisms to stabilize and make banks whole, while the federal government is clearly incapable of grasping the magnitude of what this pandemic has wrought. Landlords are reactionary because their only tool of enforcement is eviction. But as Yves correctly points out, there are no tenants coming behind those evicted to fill in the vacancy so the net effect is to still evict and transfer property massively to creditors who will weather the storm just fine.

  10. Bob Hertz

    The true temporary solution is to fairly compensate the landlords every time the rent is forgiven for a tenant.
    Back this summer, I estimated that this could be done nationwide for about $100 billion. This is not overwhelming when one considers all the other spending that has been done to rescue corporate debt, et al.

    I documented this in my detailed article “Debt Forgiveness is Urgent.” You can read more at my website “

    1. urdsama

      Unless everyone is made whole (excepting large/medium corporations and individuals at higher income brackets), no.

      It’s not okay that landlords don’t feel any impact when the ordinary citizen is getting pounded.

  11. Matt Alfalfafield

    I’ve spent a good chunk of my free time this year working with tenant activist groups here in Toronto, where the situation is maybe not as dire as in many major US cities, but where tens of thousands are still facing eviction in the next several months and record numbers of encampments of houseless people have already sprung up in all corners of the city. I see a lot of people in this comments thread talking about potential policy solutions to this problem, or actions individual tenants can take to forestall evictions. We’ve put pressure on local and provincial governments, which has led to some empty statements of helplessness from the city and nothing from the province. If we poured all of our efforts into legislative or policy change, there’s a very high chance that we’d come out empty-handed. So we’re focusing our efforts on preventing evictions in our neighbourhoods. And so far, the results are somewhat promising. Our provincial eviction ban was lifted in August, but the wave of evictions that a lot of people predicted hasn’t materialized. A lot of the major landlords in my neighbourhood haven’t even sent out notices to tenants who are behind on rent.

    The single biggest thing that tenants can do is to organize together in their buildings and their neighbourhoods to put pressure on landlords to forgive rents for those who can’t pay. And by “put pressure” I mean direct pressure – sit-ins in their offices, protests outside of their homes, filling their voicemail with calls from supporters, exposing any property neglect or harassment from property management companies to local media outlets. We’ve also directly blocked the local sheriff’s department from evicting people from their homes. I’ve seen some similar actions coming out of the US – people blockading courthouses and barring sheriffs from carrying out evictions. This on-the-ground tenant power is not something to be underestimated in this scenario.

  12. Michael Fiorillo

    Mr. Market can be a cruel master: people go hungry while food is discarded, and people go homeless while housing sits empty.

    … ” ‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      If there are large numbers of homeless and empty housing units … how will the landlords keep out squatters? Will squatters take special care for the buildings they inhabit?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I think you may have missed the thrust of my comment. I am suggesting that no good will come of the evictions ongoing and soon to begin. They hurt people, both people evicted and property. Caring for people means caring for the ‘property’ — the cost, quality, and quantity of the homes people might live in. The current Government policy incurs great costs for the Populace.

  13. Mikel

    From the Journal comment section:

    “It’s called Capitalism. Save for a rainy day and don’t buy that 75 inch LED 4K TV or lease a brand new car.”

    This is that brain-dead jingoism of mediocrity.
    If everyone were this thrifty, you wouldn’t have capitalism. It is 100% about getting people to buy more of what they do not need.

    Savings? Even if people of lesser means tried that, look what the Feds have done to interest rates because corporations are in ao much debt. (If you believe any of the hot air that their policies will help the country, it must be nice in fairytale land).

  14. Fec

    “Unless something changes, the level of #evictions that appears likely for 2021 will be greater than anything the US has seen since the Great Depression.”

    Upon re-election, Trump will invoke a more permanent and comprehensive eviction moratorium, because he may not be a politician, but he is a #populist and they despise Wall Street, who are increasingly becoming #landlords.

    Additionally, Trump is building a political dynasty for his children, and allowing landlords to wreck the economy with evictions will not be allowed to occur.

    Also, home ownership is a huge plank in the populist platform.

    Defunding the moribund Pentagon would provide the needed funding.

    By abandoning #Zionist imperialism, Trump will usher in a Golden Age of unbiased media and an end to crony capitalism.

    You can already see this in his war on critical race theory in government and the acceptance of Israel in the Middle East.

    As we learned yesterday from The Saker, Trump put an end to US Imperialism when he failed to retaliate against #Iran for their attack on US troops in #Iraq, following his murder of #Soleimani.

    Trump has also used #Pompeo to implement what
    @RandPaul called “lunatic Libertarian foreign policy” to perfection, by sanctioning everyone in sight and giving Israel everything they ever wanted.

    It is quite simply the most successful nonviolent demilitarization effort ever attempted.

    Of course, those afflicted with #TDS can see none of this.

    By ending the #Zionist threat in the US, Trump has also successfully deflated what Chris Hedges insists is the inevitable rise of the fascist Christian Right.

    It is essential to understand that Xi and Putin have been onboard with this strategy, from the beginning. Rather than an inevitable decline into global conflict, they have guaranteed peace.

      1. Fecund Stench

        I’m more surprised than anyone this made it through moderation.

        These were tweets which covered a lot of ground.

        I attempted to offer solutions to some intractible problems, such as Pompeo’s behavior.

        I also suffer from too much Chris Hedges and desperately want him to be wrong.

        It was first thing in the morning and I was stone cold sober.

      2. Fec

        Also, if I’m a gold-plated nutter, as suggested, I’ve spent years reading this site and learned much from the comments.

        Apparently, attempts at humor are overlooked.

        I’ve been on relief since March, but will attempt a contribution.

        Many thanks.

      1. epynonymous

        The online troll farm business has boomed with the move to work from home I’d say.

        Facebook groups that were legit are now full of muppets. Popsci (I still keep going, must like beating my head against the wall) even now has a fake chat section (they took it down at least 10 years ago) that just posts ads disguised as engagement.

      1. Fec

        Thanks for replying.

        I just loved the way The Saker, whom I’ve been reading for years, tied it all up in a pretty little package.

        Iran would certainly agree with you, but we can no longer engage gun boat diplomacy.

        Our efforts at counterinsurgency are reduced to comedy.

        I’m especially fond of Rand Paul’s attempt to explain Pompeo.

        1. km

          The Saker (who clearly has no axe to grind and therefore never could be accused of cherry picking or motivated reasoning).says so.

          Well, that proves something. I guess. We heard the same arguments from Obama cultists for eight years about why Obama couldn’t end the stupid wars quite yet, be patient, Obama’s got a plan.

          Eight years of excuses.

          Don’t be like the Obama cultists.

    1. Ian Ollmann

      “Upon re-election, Trump will invoke a more permanent and comprehensive eviction moratorium, because he may not be a politician, but he is a #populist and they despise Wall Street, who are increasingly becoming #landlords.”

      Correction: He will make an election moratorium, and then stop worrying about anything but his golf game.

  15. Harry

    This is very interesting. I have dabbled in landlording, and its a thankless business. But then most of them are. The market for residential real estate is still going crazy. Values are exploding. I went to see some buildings up for sale towards the lower end of the market (always a depressing activity). The owner had 3 vacant units out of 6. A bad sign. One unit had recently been vacated by the tenant who just could not pay. He had moved out as an act of kindness to the landlord. I remarked that the Landlord had been lucky. If he had chosen to stay there would have been nothing the landlord could have done. Courts remain closed and even when they open the backlog will be enormous.

    Its interesting how strong the market is, considering these cross-currents.

  16. David Miller


    Between taking care of mom and keeping Naked Capitalism on track you could probably use a bit But smoking? How 20th century. Low temperature baking gives better results and saves your lungs.

    I’d love to send NC a check (the credit card/Pay Pal option is a problem for me). I know, checks are a pain, but you should have a POB right on the “contribute” page.. And you might get some interesting anonymous material too.


    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks for your willingness to contribute, but having to go to the Post Office is yet another tax on my time (ten minutes is a lot of time for me) and increases Covid risk, when I am doing everything possible to avoid leaving the house. And I don’t understand how having a Post Office box is any help to readers.

  17. epynonymous

    Proposal – we should consider workgroups here.

    I consider us lucky to have this place, and I’ve been here since 2008. Contributors and commenters all. I salute anyone working in good faith and I truly don’t want things to change here, but things have changed on the internet. Let’s talk about it.

    For starters, it took me three days to get my thoughts together on the class implications of Five Finger Death Punch (~don’t get me started!~) and while even I can understand its not all about me, it seems a shame that I just have to move on or engage in ‘thread necromancy’. The timeliness of this site is one of its highest merits, but that is not to say it is all to the positive. Much is being lost in our efforts to beat ‘the news cycle’ – Sometimes we want to spend six months discussing the finer points of bird calls. Before arguing my point further, lets agree that community and effective direction are the reason this place works in this crazy world.

    We are replicating effort, and even worse some of that effort is essentially lost in the scroll. The benefit is that it shuts down the real flame-wars automatically, but its a baby and bathwater situation. Furthermore, the in-crowd nature of these learned discussions we do have is exclusionary to newbies. It took me a few good years to really understand the points on finance made here despite some real effort on my part. Kids these days almost don’t have a chance. The Federal Reserve? What is that, I imagine them saying… We need primers (Wolf Street is great on this, in linking back to his previous relevant articles. Tags are great, but attention is a limited resource and just having some standing references to ‘on-board’ the uninitiated may go a long way.) If we had -say- a monthly or weekly, focused version of what we are all talking about that occasionally gets distilled down to even finer discussion then it could be referenced later in the future as we keep talking about some of these same issues over the years.

    Division can be avoided by effectively structuring this effort. Discussion sections could be kept around as sub-forums that automatically link their content to the main discussion in the comments (meaning anything discussed today gets shunted right to links. Also, the comments in the daily main articles here would not get so lost in the sauce as they are now (this would, admittedly, require a technical solution that is beyond me.) By pinning your independently written articles you could drive and focus engagement? This would benefit from another re-draft but I think the ideas I’m expressing are as well developed and specific as currently intended.

    I guess people will drop out under even the need for one extra click, but if we had discrete groups of ideas we were working on together rather than relying on good taste and chance we could put some real ideas together. Just the COVID comment posting alone from the biologists would be powerful, and every once and awhile there could be a scrub to tighten up findings and document disputes. The best stuff on the net is all here, IMO, but we keep posting the days findings and they roll right over and have to try again the next day. Down the memory hole they say.

    I detest academic formalism and the potential for highlighting our disagreements but maybe we could use it to our advantage. Pin some specialized comments section that forwards both ways to the daily comments section and maybe we don’t heat things up but slow things down. Your daily articles are effectively that, and most people take them as the guided discussions they are, but our time is limited and if I have to cut back it comes at the expense of thoughtful articles like this.

    They can be turned off and on at the needs of the moment and we don’t have to go cross platform. I’ve tried my hardest to make a meet-up for a decade, but the necessities of life have stopped me always. Now that meet-ups across groups and state lines are verboten, maybe this is a viable alternative.

    Forums are so old-school that maybe it’d be genius, and perhaps with enough forethought we could implement them in a way that enables larger-scale discussions without driving the fine people responsible for everything we look forward to up a tree. Probably not, but if we wanna talk bird songs for a few months at a time, a cross-posted sub-section dedicated to that (or a political or economic trend, etc) that doesn’t interfere with links but just extends a discussion could be good. It’s not discord or reddit here, and I know great effort goes to making sure its not, but if we want to be a bit more than daily journalism and a community of spirit (a’ la Jesses Cafe) I just wanted to raise the potential.

    To summarize, what if we had a longer term discussion thread or two at a time that also cross-posted anything that day to the links/ watercooler discussion board. Probably impossible, and if not done right it would just cause consternation and fragmentation, but if possible we could be a bit more durable in our impacts I hope.

    As usual, I know I’m a crackpot for even mentioning it. Not my circus, not my monkeys but I do try. ;)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks for your interest in the discussions here and in meeting other readers. However, we’ve had a request like this only once in the last five years, which says it’s not something readers hunger for. Perhaps that is because most readers are already keeping up discussions across threads on major topics, such as Covid, Brexit, Russiagate, Sanders, Assange, etc.

      In addition, we are at our capacity doing what we do. You seem to believe we can wave a wand and make this happen. I am struck by the lack of agency: “Division can be avoided by effectively structuring this effort.’ Huh? Who is to do this structuring? The Tech Fairy?

      Just setting it up would take time and money and divert resources from what we promised readers we’d do with any surplus, which is more original reporting. And the caliber of our comments section is the result of an intensive moderation/participation effort. Another section of the site would dilute the current comments section and overstrain our mod effort. I don’t see this as a net plus.

  18. James

    Interesting how so many believe that property owners should subsidize the pandemic indefinitely while mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and maintenance expenses continue on with no relief for the landlord.

    Maybe these charitable souls should become landlords, donate money towards unpaid rents, or demand that the US Government pay said rents for tenants that are suffering.

    Even more interesting is how no one, absolutely no one is reporting on the scam within the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). One needs no significant finance knowledge to understand that many, many businesses had their payrolls made for them at tax payer expense while their businesses actually boomed requiring no financial assistance at all.

    While many, many people suffer incredibly, business owners that were either unaffected by, or actually prospered due to the pandemic, had their payrolls made for them via US Treasury PPP funds thereby adding to their bottom line profits, via the amount of their payroll.

    To simplify, business owners that suffered no loss of gross revenue and no loss of net profit at all, were given enough money to make their payroll (in some cases millions). Since they suffered no loss, or their profits actually increased dramatically (as in the case of lawn and garden centers, etc.) they can now use the funds they would have made payroll with, to purchase, for example, a beach house. Literally, the U S Treasury has given some business owners enough additional profits to purchase a beach house; and they are laughing all of the way to the bank.

    To those who might say “it was loan,” the loan is forgivable and said business owners are not require to prove the funds were “needed.”

    There are business owners that have made more money than they ever made before due to the pandemic and the PPP program, that will literally be able to purchase a beach home at tax payer expense, while millions suffer and wonder how they will be able to even survive.

    The absolute complete lack of outrage and reporting on this scam, is shocking beyond belief.

    1. Intelligent yet Idiot

      you are absolutely right, a friend of mine owns a construction company in OC employ about 40 people , his business did not suffer from the pandemic at all, business has never been better, yet the government gave him a no strings attached 600k loan. Actually he didn’t know about it but his bank called him and arranged everything, his answer : free money, hoping it will be forgiven.
      He invested it in the stock market , you need money to make money.

  19. chris

    I’m interested in how the eviction moratoriums unwind. During a past outbreak of plague in San Francisco, the eviction moratorium was kept for all Chinese landlords and not enforced for white property owners. The result was the Chinese property owners not having any income and having to sell the property cheaply. I wonder if we’ll see similar effects during the coronavirus pandemic?

  20. Synoia

    Mounting rental debt could also impede the path to a U.S. economic recovery, when 30 million to 40 million people from New York City to San Francisco face potential eviction once moratoriums expire.

    They become homeless, and the units vacant. And the new tenants, with well or meager paying jobs come from where? This “new” economy?

    How many of these households have one, or more, members with “essential” jobs? Eviction has all the appearance of a series of own goals.

  21. Intelligent yet Idiot

    I would question those catastrophic figures thrown around by sensationalist media , 30 to 40 million evictions is a lot of people , US has a homeownership rate of about 65, out of a population of 330million that leaves 114million people as renters and this assumes also that one person lives in a house which means that the number of persons renting would be much smaller, then if you consider only the adult population, the total number of potential renters is probably in the 30 to 40million range.
    Are 100% of the renters facing eviction?
    NHMC rent tracker is saying that rent collection so far is similar to previous years on average, so I dont know where those 30 to 40 million evictions are coming from.

    1. JBird4049

      A very important point andI would add that the current economic situation like the political is confusing.

      I would counter that both rental and mortgage payments are already a real problem even before all the extra final assistance ends at the end of the year. Add that the effect or real unemployment level is at least 20% and many who are working full time are doing work that is paying less.

      Many, if not mos,t Americans, especially in states like California, already have difficulty paying the rent or the mortgage. In addition, outside the top 10% or less, of the population housing costs have been increasing faster than income. Last year California already had at least 140,000 in homeless people.

      There are already reports of a very strong increase in hunger and malnutrition even in children. Since the rent and then the children always comes first, the older members of the family are going real hungry while barely paying for the housing. With any worsening of economy and Congress refuses to give any serious stimulus, If the reports are true about the children, we very well could see tens of millions of new homeless. Most will not be blaming themselves, I think, unlike what Americans usually do.

Comments are closed.