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Guest Opinion: Help is on the way for rental property owners

Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert.

On Feb. 9, I held a community town hall to learn more about the impacts of the county's eviction moratorium that was put in place years ago to help struggling renters get by during the pandemic. It was clear to me that many rental housing providers have been denied the rents that are rightfully theirs as a direct result of the eviction moratorium.

Instead of focusing on our most vulnerable residents the moratorium has been used by many renters who are capable of paying rent as a blanket justification to shirk their responsibility. As a result, housing providers are owed tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars of unpaid rent.

As a result, many rental housing providers have been forced to sell or face bankruptcy or foreclosure, thereby reducing the available rental housing stock.

In addition to unpaid rent, the eviction moratorium brought out the worst in people. Many housing providers report tenants exhibiting deliberate harassment of neighboring tenants, unlawful subletting and ignoring lease terms with impunity because they feel emboldened by the eviction moratorium.

The original intent of the moratorium was to protect renters from the catastrophic effects of COVID-19. But conditions have changed since the early days of the pandemic.

The shelter-in-place order was eliminated many months ago and everyone is now back to work, vaccines are widely available with over 90% of residents protected, hospitalizations are at an all-time low, and even mask requirements have largely gone away. That's why every other county in America has eliminated or amended their eviction moratorium.

After many months of delays, the Board of Supervisors will finally hold a hearing on Tuesday (Feb. 28) to discuss whether to end the moratorium, which I support.

My message to property owners is this: help is on the way. I am committed to identifying ways that the county can make property owners whole, repaying the lost rent denied to them so they can continue to provide naturally affordable housing in Alameda County.

I am committed to protecting property owners from foreclosure and bankruptcy. I am committed to preserving the moratorium's original intent to protect renters who are struggling as a direct result of COVID-19.

I look forward to continuing to generate creative solutions alongside our community.

Editor's note: Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert is the current vice president of the Board of Supervisors and represents Supervisorial District 1, which includes the cities of Dublin and Livermore, most of the city of Fremont, the unincorporated community of Sunol, a portion of the city of Pleasanton and most of the unincorporated area of the Livermore-Amador Valley.

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