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Rockland Council asks landlords to hold off on evictions

By Stephen Betts | Mar 30, 2020
The Rockland City Council met Monday evening March 30 via the online Zoom service.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council formally asked Monday evening for landlords to hold off evicting tenants while the COVID-19 state of emergency remains in place.

The City Council voted unanimously March 30 during a meeting held through the online Zoom service for a resolve sponsored by Councilor Nate Davis.

Councilor Davis said he proposed the resolve because people have contacted him about their concerns about being able to pay their rent.

"I thought it would be worthwhile to offer encouragement," Davis said.

Councilor Valli Geiger voiced support for the resolve, which is not mandatory.

"This is not punitive," Geiger pointed out. "So many people are facing true financial disaster.

Former Mayor Will Clayton had sent an email to the Council expressing reservations about the resolve.

Clayton said the resolve sends a conflicting message which "seemingly pits renters versus landlords and property owners."

"I fully appreciate what Councilor Davis is trying to do however a Resolve is merely a statement and unless carefully considered and discussed fully it can be taken completely different than its intention,"Clayton said.

Clayton also suggested transferring money from surplus to the general assistance office to help renters in Rockland.

The Council added a line to the resolve to thank any landlord who agrees to the request.

There are on average four to five eviction hearings held in the Knox County Court each month, according to the court. Those hearings are on hold during the state of emergency with the court limiting the cases it will hear.

The pandemic has created severe economic hardship for many residents and businesses in Rockland, the resolve states, and will likely persist for months.

"The city of Rockland recognizes that landlords are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but that some landlords can withstand delayed or reduced rent payments without severe economic hardship," the resolve continues.

The resolve encourages landlords not to undertake evictions during the statewide state of emergency and to accept late or reduced rental payments without penalty.

The Council is also asking the state to enact a law to offer protections against evictions or foreclosures during the statewide state of emergency. The resolve asks the state to offer cash assistance to landlords who undergo financial hardship from lost revenue during this period.

There are about 1,600 rental units in Rockland which account for about 40% of all housing in the city.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Mar 31, 2020 14:58

Now for the council to do their part to assist us homeowners and landlords by making sure taxes won't increase. Never mind passing it off as the school district or county's fault or the labor unions.  People are hurting and that hurt needs to be spread around equitably. Don't say it can't be done because I have to do it every month on my fixed income.



Posted by: Deborah Clarisse Morrison | Mar 31, 2020 14:14

This is WAY beyond the council's roll.  In one sentence it's "encouraged"...in the next, it's asking for a new "law".  I quess landlords don't have bill too?  If the landlord doesn't pay their bills to the city, insurance, fuel oil etc. who will help them?  Most if not all evictions are as a last resort as most of the laws are in the tenants favor and it takes months to evict someone and remember, eviction is usually as a last resort.  Non paying / destructive tenants can put a landlord out of business and all the other tenants in the building will have to leave too because of foreclosures.  Landlords have mortgages and bills to pay.  If the council wants "feel" like they are helping, how about telling supermarkets to provide free food, gas stations should step up with free gas and maybe Pen Bay will offer free healthcare to everyone out of the goodness of their heart.

Keep with running the city's business (and keep out of mine.)  SM II



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