Landlord out $36K: ‘I’m required by law to become a victim’

Clark County

Some small landlords like Tracy Burgess have no way of recouping losses from tenants who take advantage of the eviction moratorium

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — The eviction moratorium put in place at the height of the pandemic has helped keep thousands of people in their homes but it’s had unintended consequences for others.

Tracy Burgess said one of her tenants in Vancouver took advantage of the eviction moratorium. Burgess said she was planning to evict the tenant last April for other lease violations but was unable to do so once the moratorium went into effect.

For months, Burgess said she couldn’t do anything while he caused $15,000 in property damages and moved other people into the apartment. Burgess said the man now owes $18,400 in unpaid rent but was unwilling to apply for available rent assistance, despite her offer to help him with the process.

“So that’s a $36,000 hit to my family and there’s no recourse for what to do,” she said. “The fact that I’m being required by law to become a victim and to not be able to manage the situation, to make it more comfortable for my other tenants, it was a nightmare.”

The tenant moved out on his own three months ago. But Burgess said she has no recourse to get her money back and wishes the state had considered the negative side effects the moratorium could have on small landlords.

The mess left by one of Tracy Burgess’ tenants in Vancouver. (Courtesy of Tracy Burgess)

“There should’ve been some caveats or some protections or something that left me with some ability to control the situation — not only for myself but for my other tenants. There should be some easy way for me to get compensated now for all that’s happened,” she said. “To take away all of my ability to protect myself from being taken advantage of was wrong.”

Burgess said she’s spent most of her savings on repairs and keeping up with the mortgage on the rental property. She’s now considering selling her properties and knows dozens of other small landlords doing the same because they’ve lost so much money from people who took advantage of the eviction moratorium.

The new eviction moratorium, announced Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is scheduled to last until Oct. 3.

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