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Old 04-15-2020, 07:51 PM
Saint Cad is offline
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Denver City Council vs Gov. Polis


The Denver City Council voted unanimously to ask Gov. Polis to use his emergency powers to force landlords/mortgage companies to suspend collection or rent/mortgage payments during the current crisis. Polis says he cannot legally do that as it is unconstitutional under the Contracts Clause of the Constitution. Many community groups are starting to advocate for petitioning Polis to implement this moratorium of collecting rent and taxes. It seems to come down to a few things

1) People not aware the state government cannot impair a contract.
2) A presumption that "emergency powers" means laws do not apply.
3) That landlords and mortgage companies deserve the money less than the renters/homeowners because it is an economic crisis.

I predict a lot of politics on this issue in Denver and Colorado before this is over. Sadly I think very little will be based on law or facts.
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Old 04-15-2020, 08:54 PM
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Does it vary by state constitution, and at what level of government do you have the ability to do this (city, county, state, federal)?
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Old 04-15-2020, 09:12 PM
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Does it vary by state constitution, and at what level of government do you have the ability to do this (city, county, state, federal)?
Contracts Clause is US Constitution so I don't think states can override it despite emergencies. The political question here would be is if preventing landlords/mortgage holders from collecting for a time "impairing" the contract.

Last edited by Saint Cad; 04-15-2020 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 04-16-2020, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
1) People not aware the state government cannot impair a contract.
3) That landlords and mortgage companies deserve the money less than the renters/homeowners because it is an economic crisis.

I predict a lot of politics on this issue . Sadly I think very little will be based on law or facts.
I ain't no lawyer, but yeah, I'm pretty sure the state can't impose changes on contracts already signed.
But I do think that it is perfectly reasonable politically to force this economic crisis to be shared by both the "big guys" and the little guys.
The corona crisis is forcing a lot of good, average people into deep financial pain, and many will not be able to pay the rent soon.
And it is perfectly moral for politicians to make the big guys--the banks and landlords--share in the pain.

The moral thing to do would be declare that due to the emergency, some rental payments will be cancelled for the next couple months.*
But since this is illegal, the next best solution is to force the landlords to pay heavy fees for carrying out evictions.

This I think would be legal, since evicting a renter and throwing his stuff out on the street requires filing court documents and (I think!) calling the police--i.e using the services of the government.
Courts always require fees to file...so it would be easy to state that any landlord filing eviction papers would pay a higher fee, say, an extra 3 months rent. Thus making the landlord pause for 3 months before filing.

Landlords work hard, and deserve to get paid.
And so do their tenants.

But the tenants are currently not getting paid due to government lockdown decrees. The decrees force employees to lose money, but not landlords.
So why not issue a specific decree aimed at making the landlords lose a little money, too?--thus sharing in their fair portion of the social and economic pain? The means of enforcement could be the additional fees for using the courts.

-----------------------------------------------
*(sort of like Bernie Sanders' idea to cancel college debt payments.)
Note: this analogy is rough, and I do NOT want this thread to turn into a Bernie-thread. It is just an illustration showing that some politicians feel that there is legitimacy in easing or cancelling certain debt payments by private citizens who are under contract. If it's okay for students, why not for tenants?
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Old 04-16-2020, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by chappachula View Post
The moral thing to do would be declare that due to the emergency, some rental payments will be cancelled for the next couple months.*
But since this is illegal, the next best solution is to force the landlords to pay heavy fees for carrying out evictions.

This I think would be legal, since evicting a renter and throwing his stuff out on the street requires filing court documents and (I think!) calling the police--i.e using the services of the government.
In doing some research, it seems that the government can put a moratorium on evicting people and I believe Denver has already done that. We'll see if it comes to that and see if there is any blowback when non-evictions start happening.
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