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Evictions in Houston During a Major Storm Have Tenants and Landlords Strained

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Many of Houston’s roads have turned into rivers from tropical storm Beta. Houston, a city already prone to flooding in certain areas, isn’t able to handle the constant rain from this unmoving storm. The city has been blasted with rain nonstop for days and more than 100 rescues have already taken place.

Despite the presence of a major storm and massive flooding, many Houston evictions are moving forward. In fact, according to Houston Public Media, Houston has had the most evictions in the entire U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic began. More than 11,000 evictions have been filed in Houston since mid-March.

Landlords have their hands tied

While some would say it’s inhumane to evict a tenant in the middle of a pandemic, let alone in the middle of a flood, landlords have their hands tied. Although some landlords can get their mortgage payments suspended through the CARES Act, not all landlords qualify.

For many landlords, eviction is their only hope of generating income from their investment. Many Houston landlords depend on their rental income to pay their bills and feed their families. Their hands are tied – they have no choice but to pursue evictions that aren’t covered under the moratorium.

Flooding from Beta is making it hard to buy and sell homes

Many landlords who can’t evict non-paying tenants are working hard to generate income by acquiring new rental properties to rent to tenants who can pay the rent. However, flooding from the relentless tropical storm is making the home buying process hard. Despite massive flooding, Houston residents still need to complete the required technicalities like scheduling appointments for home inspections.

For property investors looking to acquire a new property, the impact of tropical storm Beta is slowing down the process. Many investors will need to wait until the storm passes to secure a new property to rent out.

Moratorium qualifications are confusing to landlords, tenants, and the court

There are currently no state or local eviction protections for Houston residents. However, the recent CDC eviction moratorium protects renters earning less than $99,000 per year or if they were eligible to receive an economic impact payment. However, Houston Public Media reviewed around 100 eviction cases and found only one was stopped by the moratorium. That doesn’t create a good outlook for Houston residents currently facing an eviction.

Part of the problem is that tenants don’t know their rights. The court isn’t required to tell renters they can apply for an exemption under the CDC’s moratorium. However, the Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that landlords are required to provide the exemption form to tenants with their eviction notice.

Another complication is confusion in the court. Many tenants provided their landlord with the proper declaration that they are covered by the moratorium, but the court rejected their declaration because it wasn’t notarized. The problem is, the CDC did not say the declaration needs to be notarized to be valid.

Some renters have reported being rejected by the court for invalid reasons and no reason at all.  Houston Public Media observed several eviction hearings where tenants should have been granted coverage, but were unlawfully denied without a proper explanation.

Tenants don’t know their rights

Many evicted tenants would probably qualify for an exemption under the CDC’s moratorium and could make their case in court, but statistics show that most tenants don’t show up to their eviction hearings. The majority of evicted tenants simply pack their bags and leave as soon as they can to avoid getting involved in the court system. Many wouldn’t even know how or where to file the exemption.

Some evicted tenants have nowhere to go

Being evicted during a pandemic is some tenants’ worst nightmare. Many have nowhere to go. Thanks to flooding, many can’t even live in their cars without leaving the city of Houston. The situation is dire for those tenants.

Houston may see an exodus, at least until the storm clears

Many evicted tenants may leave Houston as tropical storm Beta floods the streets. Those who leave will probably come back once the storm has passed and the streets have dried up. Houston is one of the most popular U.S. cities and it’s hard to imagine residents leaving for good. 

Hopefully, the storm and the pandemic will both pass quickly so that Houston residents can get back on their feet. Until then, we can expect to see evictions through the end of 2020, and possibly even more when the moratorium ends.

A multi-lingual talent head, Jimmy is fluent in languages such as Spanish, Russian, Italian, and many more. He has a special curiosity for the events and stories revolving in and around US and caters an uncompromising form of journalistic standard for the audiences.

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Reckless Driving in the State of Virginia

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The state of Virginia is strict in its enforcement of laws against reckless driving. According to section 46.2-852 of the Virginia Code, reckless driving is listed as a criminal offense. In addition, the Virginia Code categorizes all driving that endangers the life and property of others as reckless.

Several behaviors that motorists exhibit while behind the wheels can qualify as reckless driving in Virginia. “Reckless driving causes nearly a third of all deaths involving major car accidents, which are more than 13,000 each year,” explains attorney Karin Riley Porter. As a result, you can be charged by an officer and can be found guilty or not guilty by a judge.

Types of Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is in different forms and includes:

1. Driving a vehicle with a mechanical fault

Va. Code § 46.2-853 considers driving a vehicle with faulty brakes as a reckless driving offense. Therefore, if a driver cannot maintain proper vehicle control, the driver will be held liable for reckless driving. However, if a driver could prove that they didn’t have prior knowledge that the vehicle was faulty, it would be possible to avoid conviction.

2. Not giving out the right signals when required

Not giving out a signal while driving on Virginia road is an offense under section 46.2-860 of the Virginia Code. Motorists are required to start signaling 50 feet away from the place they would be turning where the speed limit is not above 35 mph. In situations where the speed limit is above 35 mph, drivers are required to signal 100 feet away from where they would take a turn.

3. Driving alongside another vehicle on a single lane road

In Virginia, driving two vehicles abreast on a one-lane road is considered a reckless driving offense. This rule, however, only applies to vehicles and has no implications on motorcycles and bikes. If found liable, the offender will face charges.

4. Overspeeding

Different Virginia roads are subject to variable speed limits. A driver can face charges for reckless driving if they exceed the speed limit specified by law on each road network. According to the Va. Code §46.2-862, a driver can face convictions for reckless driving if they exceed the specified speed limit by 20 mph or drive above 80 mph.

5. Driving with an impaired view

Some drivers overload their cars or carry passengers who prevent them from seeing all sides of the road. Overloading is most common in trucks. If the passenger’s sitting position in any way obstructs the driver’s view, then the driver can be charged for reckless driving.

6. Racing on Public Property

Section 46.2-865 of the Virginia Code considers car racing on any property that is open to the members of the public without authorization as reckless driving. If found guilty, the state can withdraw the license of the driver for up to six months.

Penalties for Reckless Driving in Virginia

A reckless driving conviction may attract different penalties to the offender, some of which may include:

  • A suspension of the driver’s license for six months or more
  • Up to one-year jail term
  • Fine amounting to $2,500
  • Increase in auto insurance
  • Ineligibility for car rentals
  • Possibility of permanent seizure of vehicle if found guilty of unauthorized car racing

Conclusion

Reckless driving is a severe offense in Virginia. If you are charged with the crime and convicted, it can stay in your driving records for up to 11 years. However, with the help of an experienced Virginia traffic attorney, you can get a lesser charge for the offense.

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