ACTION JACKSON: Eviction mortarium places an unfair burden on mom & pop landlords

Updated: Apr. 20, 2021 at 1:12 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As employment plummeted during the pandemic, both renters and landlords felt financial hardships.

“It’s hard, we haven’t gotten paid in 4 months now,” said Sandra Dunaway.

Dunaway owns rental properties in the Baton Rouge area. She says she and her husband have nearly exhausted their savings account as they try to keep up with the mortgage payments - while their tenants continue to live rent-free.

RELATED: How to submit an application for the EBR Rental Assistance Program

“My husband was in fact unemployed from September to February first, and that’s part of our income. We depend on that income; that’s part of our retirement money,” said Dunaway.

She says her only option now is to sell the properties, but she will have to wait a little longer.

“The CDC has extended its order until June 30th,” said Judge Yvette Alexander, Baton Rouge City Court.

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Judge alexander says once a tenant provides a signed moratorium notice from the CDC, an eviction hearing will likely be dismissed. However, landlords do have the right to appeal if they believe a tenant is able to pay rent.

“If the landlord disputes it or thinks that’s something is not true in there, the burden of proof ships to him to be able to prove it which is very difficult,” said Judge Yvette.

Judge Alexander says while landlords generally do not dispute the cases, she urges renters to be honest. you could face jail time and penalties for lying under oath.

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It’s not just I don’t want to pay my rent so here I am I’m going to sit that’s not what it is it’s meant to help people who have been hurt by covid and if you haven’t been hurt by covid then you should not be taking advantage of your landlords.”

“The senators, the congressman, the governor office, I’ve talked to everybody I can think of to talk to. I’ve written letters, and I’ve just kind of gotten nowhere. And they’ve even told me that I’m sorry you have just fallen through the cracks. So, sometimes I do feel like I’ve been thrown overboard and not giving a lifeline,” says Dunaway.

Dunaway says she applied for landlord assistance through the state but was denied, likely because the aid does not include East Baton Rouge. Which has its own assistance program.

According to the mayor’s office, landlords are only eligible if the tenant applies and qualifies for the program.

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