The owner of Vulcan Lofts and nearly two dozen other East Bay apartment complexes is singularly responsible for nearly a third of all Oakland eviction notices filed during the eviction moratorium.
Some landlords have of course still been trying to serve eviction notices, despite Governor Newsom’s statewide eviction moratorium passed in March. But the San Francisco eviction moratorium technically expired December 1, 2020, and federal and state moratoriums expired January 31. President Biden did an eviction moratorium executive order that still leaves a lot of people exposed, but Newsom signed an emergency extension of the state order last Friday that pushes the California moratorium out until June 30, 2021.
But Oakland’s eviction moratorium is slated to last as long as pandemic emergency orders are in place, so tenants there should be safe, right? Guess again.
Oakland landlords have sent hundreds of eviction notices to tenants during the pandemic, despite the city’s current moratorium banning most evictions, according to records obtained by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit. https://t.co/9mZeQA2vft— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) February 3, 2021
NBC Bay Area released a bombshell investigative report Wednesday that Oakland landlords have issued nearly 500 eviction notices since that city’s moratorium passed. That’s not surprising, given the ethics of the landlord racket. What is surprising is that they found nearly a third of these evictions all came from one landlord, Madison Park Financial, whose nearly two dozen East Bay apartment complexes include the Fruitvale artist/maker spot Vulcan Lofts.
I took this today in the Vulcan Lofts, an artist live / work space which has over 200 units. I love the way this tenant used spacing in this display. He told me his landlord, John Protopappas, tore it down once and he put it back up. Tenant is part of Madison Park Tenants Council pic.twitter.com/GFPsUEqFVa— Zack Haber (@ZZZZZZZZZZZack) November 23, 2020
Vulcan Lofts alone constitutes nearly 10% of all Oakland eviction notices sent out during the moratorium. “They want to harass people and bully people into thinking that they need to pay them all the money or sign up for a payment plan,” Vulcan Lofts tenant Lili Thomas-Brumme told NBC Bay Area. “It’s exhausting and infuriating.”
The vast majority of these eviction notices have come since September, after the passage of a state bill called AB 3088 that was intended to strengthen renter rights. NBC Bay Area obtained the eviction notices posted on people’s doors or mailed to them, which read, “Within fifteen days of the date of service of this Notice upon you, excluding weekends and judicial holidays, you are required: a) to pay said rent, or in the alternative, b) to quit and deliver up possession of said premises, or in the alternative, c) deliver a signed declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress, and documentation thereof, if applicable, to the Landlord.”
Madison Financial may have seen those newly enacted protections as an opportunity to pounce on tenants who did not understand the protections.
“Madison had no intention of pursuing any eviction for non-payment of rent. Madison was simply issuing the 15-Day Notices to meet the requirements of AB 3088,” their attorney Servando Sandoval told the station, as if eviction notices do not reflect an intention to evict.
Sure, it is still technically possible to evict tenants during the moratorium. Those who want to avoid eviction have a lot of record-keeping responsibilities, and do ultimately have to pay the back rent. But tenant attorneys discourage you from signing payment plans if you’re still unemployed.
“The problem with a payment plan is, for somebody who is not employed, there’s really no telling when you’re going to be employed again,” tenant lawyer Scott Weaver told the SF Public Press. “Promising money that you haven’t earned yet, and you don’t know whether you’re going to earn, I think is not a good strategy.”
Image: Madison Park Financial