Maine Landlord: It's A Crisis, So I'm Not Collecting Rent
Yr Wonkette is pleased to bring you another Nice Time story to remind you that it's not all gloom and doom out there. Take this landlord in Maine, Nathan Nichols, who announced on Facebook last Friday that for the time being, he's not going to collect rent from the families living in two units he owns in South Portland, because we have to look out for each other:
His tenants are economically vulnerable right now, and he isn't, so hell yes he knows the right thing to do:
Because I have the good fortune and of being able to afford it and the privilege of being in the owner class, I just let them know I would not be collecting rent in April.
Beyond his own action, Nichols added, he called on other property owners to "take a serious look at your own situation and consider giving your tenants some rent relief as well." It's not quite The Revolution, but it's going to make a hell of a big difference for two families in South Portland, Maine.
Newsweek has more:
"I am quite surprised and I am happy that it got shared a lot because I do seriously hope that people who have some privilege will see this and take a hard look and see what they can do," Nichols told WMTW.
And despite the praise he has received, Nichols said he is "literally just not taking some money that people were giving me."
He said a family with a young child and a single, hourly income live in one of his units. They struggle financially as it is, he said.
Nichols pointed out that the cost of not getting a month's rent wouldn't hurt him as much as the cost of losing the tenants, and said his reason for making the post to Facebook was all about encouraging others to rethink their priorities during the coronavirus outbreak:
If more people do this, which is the only reason I posted this in the first place, to hopefully get people to take a hard look at what they can do to keep things working.
On Sunday, Nichols posted an update saying he appreciated all the nice messages from folks who appreciate what he did, and adding he completely understands that some landlords may not be able to afford missing any rent, and so he doesn't want to be judgy. But mostly, he was happy to see someone else had picked up on the idea:
Alhough we haven't combed through all the replies to Nichols's posts, this one, from yesterday, stood out, too:
And while we're delighted to see folks like Nichols putting people before profits, this is where we remind y'all that relying on the kindness of individuals won't ever address huge problems, because as Elizabeth Warren kept saying, big systemic problems require Big Systemic Change.
Fortunately, state and local governments around the country are stepping up and imposing moratoriums on evictions for people who can't pay the damn rent. So far, eviction moratoriums are in place in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and all over the place. In France, President Emmanuel Macron went far beyond suspending evictions, and has temporarily suspended billing for taxes, utilities, and rent, at least for small businesses. Go, France. Robyn will have a full story coming up shortly.
It's almost as if this health crisis were exposing some kind of fundamental flaws in how capitalism works. In the 1930s, this kind of disruption resulted in the New Deal in the USA. Unfortunately, it also led to fascism elsewhere. Mister, we could use a leader like FDR again.
Update: According to the New York Times, France's utility/rent/tax moratorium is for small businesses. Another source we saw suggested it was for everybody; we have updated our story. Wonkette regrets the error.
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