As an international businessman who has owned a series of wonderful homes in Greenwich, I now find myself an inadvertent landlord for a rich family who have been squatting without paying rent for months. Recent news stories confirm I am not alone.
While it clearly makes sense to limit evictions for most tenants during a pandemic, the moratorium on evictions that the Lamont administration has implemented due to COVID provides for no distinctions or proportionality in its application.
The anticipated advantage of Lamont’s moratorium – that people not be made homeless – cannot justly apply to people who refuse to pay $10,000 per month rent pursuant to written 50- page leases drawn up by experienced attorneys. If unwilling, or, yes, even unable to pay rent in that agreed price range, they should be evicted a.s.a.p. to a lower priced alternative residence. If they are not, their unpaid rent can lead to missed property tax and mortgage payments or neglected repairs and renovations to the property. We are all made poorer as a result.
The across-the-board prohibition on evictions currently in place unfairly punishes a certain group of homeowners by protecting a group of defaulting tenants who do not need any such protection. The Lamont administration must, and should, change the executive order immediately to address this injustice or risk a claim that this government is taxing value from the owners of these properties.
Lest anyone think I believe strong property rights are the province of mansion owners only, why not have everyone currently squatting and not paying rent complete the form endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control? When our strong property rights and freedom to contract go missing, even during a pandemic, America shines less brightly.
Richard Attias of Greenwich is founder of Mansion Owners United.