Daily Mail - A group of renters in the expensive California suburb Berkeley stormed an event where landlords were celebrating the end of a COVID-era ban on evictions, plunging the event into violence and sparking a brawl that saw an elderly landlord get punched in the face.
The bayside city was among the last in Alameda County to abolish the protection that landlords claim was being used as cover for widespread rent avoidance.
It forbid them from evicting anyone who did not pay rent, but the landlords say it cost them tens of thousands of dollars over the last three years.
That title is a bit of sarcasm. I didn't wake up today thinking I would be white knighting for landlords on the blog, but here we are. Before I get into this article, I want to share with you a story of a real scumbag landlord.
I had a landlord in Columbus, Ohio at the house I was living in when COVID hit. His name was Dave, and he did nothing by the book. We signed the least official looking lease in the world. There's no way that thing was legally binding. But he apparently came on some hard times in the summer of 2020, and one day we received a text that said he needs to sell the home, and we have to get out in a month. Ok, fine. He had been giving us a pretty fair deal. We weren't thrilled about getting kicked out mid-pandemic. It was kind of a fucked up thing for him to do. But whatever, we figured it out.
Fast forward a couple months. My roommates and I had all moved elsewhere. We get a text from our landlord saying we owe something like $1500 in damages. He cited a bunch of bullshit problems the house already had prior to us moving, he claimed I never told him I had a dog (despite charging me $300 for a pet fee when I first moved in). It was just a shitty money grab. We told him we weren't paying, and he threatened to take legal action. Then somehow my roommate was able to find the property listed on some sort of public records website. On the site we could see that our landlord never disclosed that he was renting out the house. Very illegal. Pretty sure that's tax fraud. We screen shotted the document, sent it his way, and never heard from him again. To this day it's one of the bigger dubs I've ever taken.
That's a scumbag landlord. But these landlords in Berkeley, California who are celebrating the fact that they can start making money again... I'm not sure if those are scumbag landlords.
Was throwing a "time to evict our tenants" extravaganza a little uncalled for? Maybe so. But on the other hand, imagine a landlord who owns one single property. Once the eviction ban passed in March 2020, his tenant stopped paying rent entirely, and there wasn't shit he could do about it. This whole time he hasn't been able to make any money off of what was likely the largest investment of his life. That could be crippling. More than likely he was relying on that rent money to pay his own bills. No shit he's going to celebrate.
To be fair, landlords did receive some money from government programs that supported them during the pandemic. But not nearly enough to make for the amount they've lost by having a tenant go 3.5 years without paying a dime. So if that guy wants to have a petty "fuck you get out of here" party, I'm not too mad about that.
The tenants who took advantage of the situation had to have known this was coming right? What did they think would happen when the eviction ban was lifted? That the landlord you've been completely blowing off since 2020 was just going to let you go back to paying your original rent? Maybe there's some extremely, extremely kind-hearted landlords who are in a position where they can afford to cut their tenants such an amount of slack, but not everyone can do that. Not all landlords sleep on a pile of money.
But I will say, if you're going to throw such a party, maybe don't publicize it. Part of me thinks these landlords were looking for a fight. If you're going to post the time & date of your eviction party on the internet, you have to expect an angry mob on the front door.
It's a real shame there's not a better video of the fight either. Landlords vs tenants is an all-time rivalry, and based on the description of the fight, it sounds like it did not disappoint.
‘I went around and told our members to remain quiet, and peaceful and not engage, and they didn’t,' BPOA President Krista Gulbransen told Berkeleyside.
‘I don’t know how it went down from there, but next thing I know people are shoving each other.’
Gulbransen herself was shoved to the ground as ‘multiple fights’ broke out after a group of protesters decided to enter the venue an hour into the party.
One male landlord reportedly slapped a female protester in the face, while another protester knocked a landlord’s glasses off.
The BPOA which has around 750 members said one elderly attendee was punched in the face.
I know every situation is different, and I'm sure there are a handful of scumbag landlords in Berekely who are unfairly evicting their tenants. Just like there are free loading tenants who are fully capable of paying rent, but decide to take advantage of the COVID laws. But you have to have eviction. It's an extremely necessary part of the housing market. I think it's fair for the landlords to be excited that their industry is returning to normal. But again, maybe don't blast your party invitation out to the whole town.