Landlords not renewing leases in new trend that risks increasing homelessness

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With the federal ban on evictions expiring tomorrow, some are bracing for what could happen next. But another concerning housing trend has already started in Memphis, experts said.

WREG spoke with a man who didn’t want to use his name or say where he lived for fear of retaliation. He said management at his Memphis apartment complex left him an unwelcome surprise recently.

“They were given 30 days, until August 31, that they wouldn’t be renewing our lease,” he said.

He’s not alone; another WREG viewer who was too afraid to do an interview shared the notice she received at her Cordova apartment, stating her management “will not be renewing her lease.” They did not give a reason.

“We are seeing more of it than previously,” said Cindy Ettingoff, CEO of Memphis Area Legal Services.

She said landlords are ending leases so they can potentially bring in new renters who pay higher rents or replace tenants who struggled during the pandemic.

“The real problem is the lease is a contract and when the contract ends, it has to be renewed. If the landlord does not wish to renew it, he has the right,” she said. “I find it interesting considering at this time landlords are getting settlement dollars.”

“In 30 short days I will be living out of my truck in a heat wave during the pandemic by what I feel is no fault of my own, and I know I’m not the only one,” the renter said.

Ettingoff said renters always can try to negotiate by asking to go month to month until they find other housing.

Memphis Area Legal Services also has funding available for rental assistance; call 901-432-HOME.

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