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12 December 2008

"If You Don't Pay, You Can't Stay"

"If you don't pay, you can't stay."

Those are the words of Anne Lackey, a manager of over 200 rental homes in Atlanta, reacting to the decision by Fulton County Marshal Antonio Johnson to suspend evictions from December 19th until January 5th [Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Fulton suspends evictions for holiday season", December 11, 2008].

Next week, the Fulton County Commission will vote on whether to extend the eviction ban for an even longer period of time.

Anita Beaty, Director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force For the Homeless, called the suspension on evictions a "real important victory."

Just exactly who is this a real important victory for?

Anne Lackey rightly says that, "Putting a stay on evictions is going to put a burden on property owners."

Even though a landlord may have a tenant that isn't paying the rent, the landlord still must pay the mortgage, pay the taxes and pay to maintain their piece of property.

Now where exactly are the landlords supposed to get that money from?

If they had a tenant who paid the rent, those expenses outlined above would be offset by the rent revenues. But having a tenant who doesn't pay the rent forces the landlord to dip into their own pocket; it's as if the property is vacant.

Frankly, I know no landlord who relishes the eviction process. No one wants to see anybody get put out of their home, but as Anne Lackey said, "If you don't pay, you can't stay."

So once again, who exactly is this eviction suspension a "real important victory" for?

It's not a victory for the landlords. They still have to spend money on their property whether they get the rent or not. And now, they can't even put non-rent paying tenants out.

What kind of victory is that?