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East End News

NYT: Eviction Rates in Richmond – Updated

“In 2016, about 1 in 9 renter households in Richmond were issued eviction judgments. Judgments issued in majority white neighborhoods were far less common”.

The New York Times Posts about eviction rates:

Candace Williams experienced the threat, the judgment and the sheriff’s visit when she fell behind on her rent in 2016. She was making $178 a week at a convenience store, a job she could reach without a car. Some of that money went to the space heaters and foam insulation she needed for the holes in the walls on the cheapest home she could find for her family.

She brought photos of the neglected repairs on her phone to court. When she learned she couldn’t bring in the phone, she hid it under a trash can outside. When she arrived, late, to the courtroom, a default judgment had already been entered against her.

“I definitely understand my fault in it,” Ms. Williams, 43, said. “But they don’t allow you any opportunity to make a mistake.
The process is meant to be efficient, said Chip Dicks, a lawyer in Richmond who works on property management issues and has written provisions in the state’s landlord-tenant law. Efficiency is good public policy, he argues: Neither the landlord nor the tenant benefits from a drawn-out process that would burden renters with even more unpaid rent, late fees and attorney costs. And landlords can’t provide housing if they can’t pay their mortgages, he added.

“The landlords are the victims because they’re the ones not being paid when they’re supposed to be paid,” Mr. Dicks said. “What happens when you don’t pay your car payment? They come and take your car. What happens when you don’t pay your mortgage payment? They come and foreclose on your house.”

Poor tenants here, however, are not ensured access to legal aid or shielded from steep rent increases, as in some cities. And they have no right, as tenants in some states do, to deduct their own repair costs from the rent.”

Writer Emily Badger then tweeted the following:

The consequences of eviction then pile up for the whole city: Housing instability compounds medical problems, disrupts classrooms, separates families, foils social workers trying to track residents who receive benefits. I was struck by how many people I met in Richmond who interpreted eviction through the lens of Virginia history. This is a state founded on an agrarian economy, they told me. Power accrues to whoever owns the property.

Check out these pictures of Richmond taken by photographer Matt Eich as he visited Richmond to cover our high rate of evictions for The New York Times.

CBS6 recently posted an answer to the story

But, Patrick McCloud, who heads up the Virginia Apartment Management Association, claims the data cited by the New York Times is misleading.

“They cited the unlawful detainer action as their ‘eviction’ as opposed to the actual eviction, which is the resident moving out of the unit and the sheriff showing up to move them out of the unit,” McCloud said.

According to data compiled by his office using data from the Richmond Sheriff’s Office, Richmond’s eviction rate in 2017 was just 3.7 percent.

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“Richmond’s high rate of eviction is trapping the poor in perpetual poverty. The obstacles of general district court prevent poor defendants from effectively defending themselves”. (@LeadersCCH- Leaders of the New South- Community Council for Housing)
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What can YOU do? Keep informed. A neighbor, Natalie A, recommends following these projects and organizations:

Richmond Community Bail Fund

Southern Poverty Law Center

The Business Coalition for Justice

There’s also simple but profound things like Laundry Love RVA that can make the expenses of everyday life easier to bear.

The Richmond Community Bail Fund

The Business Coalition for Justice
Housing Opportunities Made Equal

Related posts

Gentrification in Richmond

Jacob C.

7 comments

SA Chaplin 04/11/2018 at 10:13 AM

This article fails to present the full picture of landlord/tenant relations. First, Virginia law gives tenants significant protections. By rights, if a tenant does not pay rent the landlord should should be permitted to remove the tenant immediately. Instead, the landlord must give proper notice, then wait a number of days, then proceed through the courts. If, for example, I sold you a bicycle for $50, with $25 down and $25 due in two weeks, you should not be entitled to keep the bicycle if you do not pay. I should be entitled to repossess it on day 15. But the law give much more deference with respect to housing. Also, the article fails to mention a tenant’s right to pay rent into court (thus depriving the landlord of rent) if repairs are needed but are not timely made. In truth, the system is weighted in favor of tenants.

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Gustavo 04/11/2018 at 10:23 AM

@SA Yeah we’re going to post this with the addition of this article that came out today. http://wtvr.com/2018/04/09/richmond-is-a-pandoras-box-of-factors-to-explain-high-eviction-rate/

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Minnie 04/11/2018 at 11:19 AM

Plus, in states with stricter tenant protections (like Massachusetts), the only effect of such policies was that landlords became a lot stricter, and it is virtually impossible to find a place if you have a low income.

I agree that people should be able to afford rent, but I’m not sure the problem is on the landlord end. If there is no assurance of revenue, there is no incentive to rent out a property. If eviction becomes harder to complete, landlords simply will rise their screening standards.

If your landlord is unresponsive, you move. You can’t stop paying rent. A lot of renters think a maintenance issue is a free rent pass. And a nonzero quantity of people intentionally neglect their apartments in hopes of fabricating such excuse for not paying rent. This is a well known problem.

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MP 04/11/2018 at 11:53 AM

If you read the CBS 6 article, it sounds like the researcher had some data issues – he called a lower type of landlord-tenant dispute an “eviction” when he shouldn’t have. That might explain why Virginia had so many of the top spots. In other words, Virginia might not actually have an eviction issue, just that the researcher wasn’t careful in how he used definitions in Virginia. That being said, I think the real issue is that a lot of landlords don’t maintain their properties very well.

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L 04/12/2018 at 9:06 AM

@MP – That’s tricky, and kind of a matter of semantics. I’ve (unfortunately/not something I’m proud of) “evicted” several tenants over the years. I say “evicted” because I’m not sure it’s a word that is actually used in the legal process, other than to describe the actual act of removal (Which I’ve never done – that’s the Sheriff’s job)

In Virginia, this is how it plays outs:

1) a Landlord delivers a “pay or quit” or some other notice to a Tenant.
2) The notice period expires without the rent being paid or the issue resolved
3) The Landlord Files an unlawful detainer – the court serves and the Landlord mails notice of the UD to the Tenant
4) There is a preliminary hearing – either an immediate judgment is issued or a trial date is set.
5) Assuming the Tenant loses at the trial or the hearing (and they usually lose automatically if they don’t show up – based on court precedings I would guess most don’t show up), there is an appeal period during which the tenant is allowed to stay in the apartment (sometimes this right to remain is waived and the Landlord is granted immediate possession). Once the appeal period/stay of judgment (may not be the technical term) is over, the Landlord may request a writ of possession. Used to be you had to physically take the writ of possession from the clerk of court to the Sheriff’s office. Now they deliver it for you.
7) The sheriff’s office contacts the Landlord to establish an eviction date. The Tenant is served or mailed notice (I think? Never been on the receiving end, thankfully!). On that date, the Sheriff shows up, physically removes the Tenant, and the Landlord either changes the locks (but must allow the Tenant back into the unit within the next 24 hours to remove their possessions) or the Landlord provides a moving crew to put the Tenant’s possessions on the sidewalk.

My point is this: Only this last step seems to technically be an “eviction.” But a renter who moves out before the Unlawful Detainer is filed/ before the hearing/before the trial/before the writ of possession/before the sheriff actually shows /etc. – well, they have effectively been evicted nonetheless, as the final outcome is exactly the same. And in my experience almost all Tenants move out prior to the sheriff arriving to “evict” them.

The only situation where I think Matthew Desmond/other researcherrs might have it wrong, as you’ve suggested, is in the unusual circumstance that a Landlord wins the unlawful detainer case but decides not to evict. There are reasons for Landlords to do this, but it’s pretty rare – probably rare enough to be statistically insignificant.

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Daniil 11/15/2018 at 10:27 PM

Let me remind everyone who is responsible for the high eviction rate in Richmond:

https://www.richmond.com/ap/state/richmond-s-public-housing-authority-filed-eviction-lawsuits-against-out/article_a3803f35-bc0b-5cb8-a886-52cb677ba57f.html

“A subsequent analysis by the Richmond-Times Dispatch of more than 150,000 court records found that no landlord in the state threatened to kick out more of their tenants last year than the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, an organization whose mission is to provide housing for those who otherwise can’t afford it

The authority (RRHA) filed 1,460 eviction lawsuits against tenants living in the 4,000 apartments it manages, The Times-Dispatch found.”

Yes, that’s right! It’s the government.

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MJR 11/16/2018 at 12:33 PM

The rental property adjacent to us was occupied by heroin junkies/dealers for most of the past year. Strung out people coming and going at all hours. Frequently banging on the front door and screaming to be let in. Open air drug deals on the block. At least two domestic violence 911 calls per month. One of the women was apprehended by police for embezzlement but only spent the weekend in jail and came right back to drug dealing. An angry man with a machete knocked on my door but I was able convince him he had the wrong address number.

The renters never once mowed their lawn. Didn’t pick up the dog crap in their back yard unless the landlord was visiting. Frequently were too lazy to take their household trash to the can so they let it pile up by their backdoor most weeks.

Took the landlord far too long to evict these deadbeats. In the end the only thing he could get them out for was having unapproved dogs.

Having lived next to this it is hard for me believe the eviction process is too stacked in favor of landlords.

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