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Landlords celebrate because they can evict their tenants

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The Berkeley Property Owners Association had a big party last week. The reason for this gathering? The end of the ban onevict tenants in this California city. From now on, «a landlord can evict a tenant for non-payment of rent due on or after September 1, 2023, even if the tenant has a COVID-related reason for not paying rent« , states the Berkeley Rent Board. The lessor cannot, however, recover the rent accrued between March 2020 and April 2023 in the context of legal action for eviction. Good news that owners were quick to celebrate. “We will celebrate the end of the ban on evictions. Guests can enjoy a free drink and a nice selection of appetizers. Those who want to participate in the event are welcome!», Announces the association on its site. The idea is to share the feedback from each owner, put in difficulty by bad-paying tenants.

The evening was held in a place called “Freehouse”, a free house, even if the owners’ association paradoxically asked for a contribution of 20 dollars, or a little more than 18 euros per guest, reports Vice. The party, however, turned into tragedy when demonstrators broke out in a fight. About 100 advocates from Tenant and Neighborhood Councils (TANC), the Berkeley Tenants Union and other groups rallied against the celebration. Songs «See our power, see our power, owners don’t have happy hours”, were chanted at the top of their lungs. A member of the owners’ association allegedly slapped a woman from the tenants and neighborhood councils and pushed her, reports Berkeleyside, the local newspaper. Video also shows a protester knocking off a party attendee’s glasses.

Unable to recover lost rent

Landlords saying the pandemic caused them undue stress, causing them to lose months of rent, and they were celebrating the end of that anxiety. They could not evict their tenants for more than 3 years (from March 2020 to August 31, 2023) even in the event of unpaid rent. The only reasons deemed legitimate were a “violation” by the tenant in terms of health or safety. Reasons that had to be proven, which discouraged many landlords. A moratorium on evictions was in fact introduced during the health crisis, tenants having lost their income. For their part, tenant advocates say the celebration is in poor taste, as local communities are still struggling to recover from the pandemic. Most cities stopped implementing this moratorium in 2021 and 2022, but some cities in California continued to offer it. Berkeley is the latest city in the county to end it.

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