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Pima County stops landlords from using eviction moratorium loophole

Pima County stops landlords from using eviction loophole
Posted at 8:36 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 00:19:08-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Pima County leaders say landlords are still evicting people, even as the federal government says they're not allowed.

They have been doing it using a loophole that has to do with technicalities in contracts.

The rate of those types of evictions have been spiking since the CDC paused other types of evictions.

District 2 Supervisor, Dr. Matt Heinz, has this message for landlords hoping to evict tenants because they can’t pay the rent:

“You can’t use too many pets, or poor landscaping, or anything that isn't a criminal activity to evict someone,” said Dr. Heinz.

Heinz says landlords are using something called "material breach of contract" to kick tenants out of their homes over seemingly small issues.

“Allows the landlords and their lawyers to say, oh wait, you haven't trimmed the hedge in two months, or you have two cats instead of one cat so now I am throwing you out because of a material breach of contract...and that language is a legal loophole that is not covered under the CDC’s moratorium,” he added.

So, the Board of Supervisors stepped in and voted 4-1 to put an end to this loophole.

These measures will build on the CDC’s extension for the moratorium on evictions through March 31.

“We really need to do what we can to protect folks from being basically put into a shelter, or potentially homeless or on the street,” he told KGUN9.

Heinz says before the pandemic, 6% of eviction orders in Pima County were attributed to “material breach of contract.” That number now stands at 21%.

“And remember this isn’t an anti-landlord effort here, because I understand they need to get paid. And just like the CDC moratorium, this doesn’t mean you don’t owe rent or back rent. That’s still all true,” said Dr. Heinz.

Just like criminal activity inside a rental can still get the tenant evicted.

“But the goal of the motion I made was to protect people from getting around the CDC moratorium which we’ve seen more and more,” he added.

Here are a few links to help with eviction protection and eviction prevention resources.