We’re getting evicted out of our apartment during a pandemic

You never think these things will happen to you personally — until they do.

Earlier this week, Evgenia and I found out that our landlord is probably gonna try boot us from our apartment — even as an unchecked pandemic still rages through the city.

We’ve been paying rent on time and have been good, law-abiding tenants. And we just found out that Evgenia’s pregnant. We’re gonna have a kid! It was great news. The landlord even congratulated us on our “future baby,” only to threaten us and to scheme to push us out on the street very next day. And the nice and caring guy that he is, he’s given us less than two weeks to collect our shit and get out. Kicking out a pregnant woman during a pandemic — what a pal!

We sublet a rent-controlled apartment and the landlord had authorized our subtenancy — but now he’s claiming that we’re there without his authorization and don’t have a right to live there, a position which almost certainly runs contrary to local tenant law. Why the sudden change? We can’t read his thoughts, but a far as we can tell he wants us out so that he can massively jack up the rent. If we go by other units in our building, with some minor renovations, he’d be able to charge almost $1,000 more a month for our place.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic with record unemployment and a housing catastrophe. Huge swaths of the economy are shut down. People are going hungry. Millions haven’t been able to make rent. By some estimates, 40 percent of renter households nationally haven’t paid in full and are at a risk of eviction. In some states, that number is much higher. Our governments — from the federal to the local — aren’t doing anything to address the problem. People are abandoning their apartments, and rents are falling for the first time in decades. Our neighborhood in LA is flooded with empty rentals, and more “For Rent” signs are going up everyday.

The ship is sinking and yet landlords are still doing their thing.

In LA and all over the country, even with a patchwork of weak eviction moratoriums in place, landlords are finding ways to harass and push people out on the street. Just the other day, some asshole landlord in San Antonio posted a threatening smiley face fake eviction letter, hoping to scare a mother of two into abandoning her apartment because she’s behind on rent — only to backtrack when the story went viral. This kind of thing is happening all over the place.

So Evgenia and I are not alone.

What makes our case particularly bizarre is that, even though we’ve been hurting financially, we’ve been paying rent in full and on time all through the pandemic. I repeat: We’ve been paying rent on time. And yet this guy is still trying to boot us out of the apartment — just because he thinks he can make a bit more money? It’s cruel and fucked up. And almost certainly goes against the law.

America is careening into a massive economic and social disaster. So it’s nice to see that landlords like ours are still living up to their parasitic reputations. They’re doing their part to make the crisis even worse. Are you?

Anyway, it’s been a hectic and stressful few days. I’m angry and outraged at what’s happening. I want to say a lot more — and, as the situation develops, I will. For now I just want to say thank you for supporting my work. It means a lot.

—Yasha Levine

Update 9/7/2020:On Thursday evening our friend found a piece of paper taped to our front door. It told us we have three days to get out of our apartment.

PS: Even at the very start the COVID lockdown back in March, it was obvious that evictions were going to be a serious problem. Evgenia and I even joined early protests in front of LA’s mayor Eric Garcetti’s office to push the city to do something about the mass evictions that were just around the corner. Little did we know that it was going to touch us personally like this.

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