U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, an outspoken defender of tenants rights, is defending rental income she’s received as a landlord.
Conservatives are criticizing the Detroit Democrat for sponsoring legislation that would cancel rents while receiving $15,000 to $50,000 in rent during 2020.
The rent was for a residential property in Detroit valued at $100,000 to $250,000, according to a financial disclosure report posted this week.
Tlaib has strongly pushed for a national eviction moratorium during the pandemic and supports legislation to cancel rent and home mortgage payments for the duration of the public health crisis. That bill would set up a relief fund for landlords and mortgage companies to cover losses from the cancelled payments.
“There is no contradiction between advocating for an eviction moratorium and rental relief and having a great relationship with a long-term tenant in a single rental home,” Tlaib spokeswoman Adrienne Salazar said.
“Rep. Tlaib is an unwavering advocate for tenants, has worked to get rental assistance out to landlords to keep people housed, and remains focused on advocating for residents during this pandemic.”
The conservative group Michigan Rising Action argued that Tlaib’s receipt of rental income is an “insult to every landlord who is unable to collect rent from tenants to make ends meet,” the group’s executive director Eric Ventimiglia said.
Tlaib, a sophomore lawmaker, first reported rental income in 2018. She is hardly the only landlord in Congress, with other members reporting millions each year from rental, capital gains, interest and other income from properties they own, according to data analysis by OpenSecrets.org.
Evictions were suspended in much of Michigan this month after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent moratorium, which Tlaib had pressed for.
The moratorium is set to run through Oct. 3 in counties with “substantial and high levels” of COVID-19 transmissions. The move by the CDC was a reversal by the Biden administration, which had let an earlier moratorium lapse.
Tlaib and other lawmakers who pushed for the continued moratorium hoped to provide more time for states to distribute federal funds — nearly $47 billion approved by Congress this year — to reach tenants and landlords that need it. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money is yet unspent in Michigan.
“We need more time to get the money out to families who need the protection,” Tlaib told The Detroit News when the new moratorium was announced.
“Now, landlords and tenants can come together and apply for the money. This was the right decision to make.”
A pair of Detroit landlords filed a lawsuit Sunday against 36th District Court in Detroit and the court’s chief judge for halting to evictions in response to the moratorium.
JPA Holdings LLC and Sandeep Gosal called the evictions halt unconstitutional and a “taking of private property.”