Dishonest people have no incentive to pay rent right now. Why? Because landlords in the U.S. are powerless to do anything about freeloaders.
Let me tell you a story. I won’t mention any names, but I know the case very well. I could point you to the case file at the county courthouse in Birmingham, but it’s a story that’s playing out all over the country.
A woman moved into an apartment last fall. She had a good job that generated plenty of income to pay for the home. But after about three months, she stopped paying rent. For six months, she hasn’t paid a nickel.
She still has her job. She won’t respond to collection efforts. She managed to get herself arrested on drug charges during the winter. The only response she ever made to collection attempts was to send a form letter from the CDC claiming she’s been affected by COVID-19 — she doesn’t have to prove it — so she doesn’t have to pay right now.
And today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that property owners can’t do anything about this. The people who thought they owned property have discovered they have no right to their property — all because a bureaucrat issued a piece of worthless paper.
This is theft.
I’ve been on both sides of the relationship between renters and landlords. As a renter, I’ve had good landlords and I’ve had terrible landlords. I appreciated the good ones and quickly moved away from the bad ones.
When I was in college, I quickly realized which were the rental companies to stay away from. Students talked about such things. The good companies were rewarded with good tenants. The lousy companies had to take the poor risks.
For the past four years, I’ve managed rentals for about 20 properties as part of my job with a Birmingham real estate company. I’ve made the rental decisions and I’ve had a phenomenal record of choosing good tenants. Out of all the people I’ve rented to, only one has been a problem.
A lot of other rental companies have had a terrible time for the last year or so. I’ve talked with some owners and managers who have as many as half of their units occupied by people who won’t pay rent and who won’t move.
In most cases, the people have the money to pay rent — but they prefer to spend the money on other things. After all, there’s nothing an owner can do right now if they don’t pay.
If I have to explain to you why this is wrong — why it is theft — I don’t know how to make it clear to you. The entire idea of property was that it belonged to the owner to do with as he pleased. For the last century or so, governments in the U.S. have slowly applied progressive left political principles to property — and they have slowly stripped away owners’ rights.
If you went back a hundred years, you would find American property owners who wouldn’t have believed that politicians could decide what they do do with their property. Zoning pretty much didn’t exist at the time in most places.
Restrictions on what could be done with property was handled in deed covenants, which were mutual agreements — which a buyer voluntarily agreed to when he bought a property — not with orders handed down unilaterally by politicians and bureaucrats.
Over time, more and more rights have been stripped away. An owner has to rent to whoever politicians say he must rent to. Politicians impose new restrictions and new rules on owners whenever they want — and the property owners have no say in the matter.
And to make matters worse, faceless bureaucrats even get to decide how much a property is worth — and how much the owner has to pay in property taxes. (The property taxes went up on our apartments last year by about 25 percent — and there was nothing we could do about it.)
On top of all of the rules and regulations — combined with the constant threat of lawsuits — that have come about in the last 50 years, the government now says, “If somebody doesn’t pay, you can’t make them leave. You have to keep paying your mortgage and your taxes and property upkeep, but you can’t enforce your lease. If you try to do that, we can fine you or even send you to jail.”
And now the U.S. Supreme Court says that’s perfectly fine.
I’ve been saying for years that property ownership is just an illusion in this country today. At best, you are leasing your property from a state. Even if you paid cash to buy a property, you have to keep paying forever — and if you ever quit paying, that property will be taken away from you.
You can’t use your property as you please. Governments can change the rules whenever they like. If a bureaucrat decides all houses in your neighborhood have to be painted pink, you have to get on board. It doesn’t matter that you never agreed to obey whatever somebody dictates.
And now, if you’ve bought a property to generate income for your retirement, for instance, that income can be stolen from you — by dishonest tenants who have been enabled by politicians and bureaucrats.
This country is slowly moving toward socialism. You can make a strong argument that we’re already at the stage of fascism. (Socialism and fascism have a lot more in common with one another than they have in common with a voluntary system based on individual freedom.) In a fascist system, property is privately owned, but it’s used as government dictates. With increasing segments of the U.S. economy, we are dangerously close to that today.
As long as you don’t own property, it’s easy to snicker at the “evil landlords” getting the shaft, but that is stupidly shortsighted.
Without private property owners who make investments in property — to build apartments and homes in order to rent them — these rentals wouldn’t even exist. And when more and more property owners get out of the market — realizing that they are being burned — idiots are going to scream that they should be forced to come back. They’re going to claim it’s a “market failure.”
Anybody who owns rental property is courting disaster right now. Your rights are slowly being stripped away. If you have any sense, you’ll sell your property and put the money somewhere safe — while you’re still allowed to sell.
When socialists take over a country, one of the first things they do is seize private property. There is going to come a day in this county — sooner than you think — which such nightmares will come true. Don’t say you weren’t warned.