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Eviction Moratorium

Recently, a new story was put out about a singular landlord in Columbia who will soon lose his property after not being able to collect rent or evict non-paying tenants for months due to the eviction moratorium.  While this story is late in coming and is also small in size to the actual problem facing landlords, at least it is getting some attention in regard to the damage the eviction moratorium has caused to private property rights.

Michael Shoemaker told FOX News that he’s owned his Columbia duplex for more than twenty years, but that Richland County will be reclaiming it, and putting it up for sale in December. Shoemaker says because of the eviction moratorium, tenants have taken advantage, and he’s been stuck with paying all the bills.

“We have ten people who are supposed to be paying rent. This month we’ve been able to collect twenty dollars,” said Shoemaker. He says the federal eviction moratorium financially ruined him, as he was left to foot the bill for rent, taxes and utilities for tenants that he says haven’t paid in more than a year.

“I was like 24,000 dollars in debt just from owning this house,” said Shoemaker. “I had another property. I had to sell it for a 15,000-dollar loss just to be able to pay my credit card bills and keep utilities on and be able to live. It’s terrible.”

Now, a notice can be seen on the front lawn that Richland County officials will be seizing and selling Shoemaker’s property for delinquent taxes in December.

It’s a dilemma SC state representative Marvin Pendarvis says he’s working to offset: pledging that more coronavirus relief funding is in the pipeline.  “That’s the hope as we work with different packages that there will be relief for landlords,” said Pendarvis. The timeline for that relief, however, hasn’t been decided yet. Pendarvis says the best course of action for landlords for now is to keep their tenants abreast on all the rental assistance options that are available to them.  “That’s one of the things that I’ve worked on is making sure that landlords understand – when these payments are made, and when these tenants get relief money, it’s going directly to the landlords,” Pendarvis added.

Shoemaker says he even lowered the rent to make it more affordable for his tenants – but nothing changed.  “Your rent was 150 a week, 100 dollars. Then those same people – zero. Stabbed me in the back,” Shoemaker said, referencing his tenants.

The fundamental problem is not that of governmental assistance, landlord/tenant law, or politics.  The solution is already in place, but politicians who are sworn to protect it have forgotten that sometimes you have just got to get out of the way.  The solution is this:

Constitution of United States of America 1789 (rev. 1992)

Amendment 5

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The Fifth Amendment protects the right to private property in two ways. First, it states that a person may not be deprived of property by the government without “due process of law,” or fair procedures. In addition, it sets limits on the traditional practice of eminent domain, such as when the government takes private property to build a public road. Under the Fifth Amendment, such takings must be for a “public use” and require “just compensation” at market value for the property seized. But in Kelo v. City of New London (2005), the Supreme Court interpreted public use broadly to include a “public purpose” of economic development that might directly benefit private parties. In response, many state legislatures passed laws limiting the scope of eminent domain for public use.When the government devalues the rights of a private citizen to manage his own property in favor of those who fail to abide by a contract, then they are depriving an individual of their due process rights.  A moratorium, like many laws, may sound good on their face to protect a party that you empathize with, but when that moratorium (and sooner or later mandate) applies to you, then it is a different perspective that you may have.

Most people see law from their current perspective – that of a renter or someone with little money and needs a home – but what if you had an unwanted guest in your house, that would not leave.  What if you had a girlfriend/fiancé/husband/mother-in-law/child that refused to leave your property and you were powerless to have them leave.  As a matter of fact, you had to leave and they were able to stay for free, while you had to pay for that house and then another house for you to live in.

The answer is not found in governmental aid – it is not found in the government at all.  It is found in respecting those private property rights established within the two documents our law is based upon; The Constitution and the Bible.  We have discussed the 5th Amendment, but yes also the 10 commandments.  Yes, the same 10 commandments that has been removed from our schools.  The same ones that tell us to respect private property twice – Do not Steal and Do not Covet.

Rental property – be it a tool, car, or a home – is not yours and it belongs to another.   They are entrusting you to protect and return it.  You do not own it or get any rights to it.  When you fail to return it or return it in worse shape then you received it, you are disrespecting the owner and your own reputation.  Further, you are violating their constitutional rights to private property and God’s Commandments to you.

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