An open letter to Iowa City landlords: Waive April rent and postpone evictions

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Augusta Place and The Chauncey on Gilbert Street, downtown Iowa City. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

By Riley Wilson, Iowa City

Dear Iowa City Landlords and Rental LLCs,

In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, many Iowa City workplaces have made the decision to decrease their operating hours or temporarily close to compensate for a lack of business, leaving a considerable number of Iowa City’s hourly workers without secure income and in precarious financial situations. It is inevitable that, in this vulnerable financial situation, many of your tenants will find themselves unable to pay April’s rent. It is also likely that many of your older tenants were forced to avoid work and take extra precautions to keep themselves safe, and thus are at extreme risk.

Unemployment assistance measures, social security, and other government transfer payments aren’t intended to cover the cost of rent and are going to be insufficient to cover the cost of rent as well as provide groceries and necessary medicine.

If you choose not to waive April’s rent, and instead attempt to evict every tenant who does not meet their rent payment, you risk taking secure housing away from a considerable number of Iowa City residents during an already dangerous public health situation. The mental and financial strain already endured by your tenants would not be able to endure homelessness and court costs associated with eviction.

Do the right thing. Announce a moratorium on evictions during the outbreak, waive April’s rent for all your tenants and promise your tenants that you will not prevent us from receiving our security deposits at the end of our lease to compensate for April’s waived rent.

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