SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Trish Williams has been a landlord for decades and bought the home she rents out in Greenville with the intention of ultimately having it become her retirement home.
But she claims the federal eviction moratorium has made it impossible for her to keep the property.
“I wasn’t out to make a killing,” Williams told 12 News. “That was not my goal. It was just to have somebody there until I said, ‘OK, that’s the last tenant, now we’re going to fix it up.’ I was going to put a porch in, rip the trees out … I had all kinds of plans for it.”
The federal eviction moratorium was enacted to prevent out-of-work and low-income tenants from being kicked out for not paying rent. The policy has kept scores of people from ending up on the streets and has been extended three times.
Data shows 1,306 evictions for non-payment of rent were filed with the courts between January and June 15th of this year, according to the Assistant State Court Administrator Craig Berke.
That number is down compared to previous years. During that same time period in 2019, Berke said there were 3,053 eviction filings for non-payment and in 2020 there were 1,562.
Williams said her tenants stopped paying rent back in January. She said without their monthly payments, she’s been struggling to keep up with the cost of owning the property.
“It’s too bad,” Williams said wiping away tears. “It hurts when you have a dream and it’s crushed … by the rules, the regulations, the government and the state.”
“It’s my property, I maintain it,” she continued. “I take care of it and there’s far too much government interference.”
Williams isn’t alone. Keith Fernandes, a spokesperson for the R.I. Coalition of Housing Providers, tells 12 News he’s decided to sell all of his rental properties and move out-of-state, in part due to the eviction moratorium.
“No landlord ever wants to evict somebody, certainly not in a pandemic,” Fernandes said. “For me personally, I just can’t look another tenant in the eye and say ‘listen, the other tenants are making noise but I can’t do anything about it because I’m not allowed to evict them.'”
Williams tells 12 News she was eventually able to evict her tenants for issues unrelated to non-payment. She plans on fixing the house up and selling it as soon as she possibly can.