The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

December 1, 2020 Letters



Call me crazy, but am I seeing the ridiculous conflict of interest I think I am? The November News contained a story headlined “LSGM receives grant to help renters.” The article announced a $300,000 grant from the “Wells Fargo Foundation that will enable the organization (Legal Services of Greater Miami) to provide free legal assistance and representation for people in Miami affected by COVID-19 and at risk of eviction.”

The spokesman for the Wells Fargo Foundation praised this action as “an important step in helping the most vulnerable people stay housed.”

So we have the charitable arm of one of the largest bank/lenders in the country funding a program to promote the ability of tenants to withhold rent payments from landlords who are indebted to the bank/lender thereby causing the landlords to default on their loan payments, which will result in the bank/lender foreclosing on the property and becoming the landlord itself. At that point it will be interesting to learn if the altruistic bank/lender, now bank/landlord, will do directly what its charitable foundation attempts to accomplish indirectly, by simply allowing those same tenants to remain in possession, rent free.

Why not adopt a program that benefits all sides of the landlord/tenant equation including the bank/lender? A monetary rent assist (or credit) given directly to the tenant to be used solely to pay rent to the landlord would cut out the costs of the “middle man,” i.e., LSGM, and allow more dollars to benefit all of the intended recipients. With rent payments flowing to the landlord enabling the landlord to make the mortgage payments due to the bank/lender, the defaults could be eliminated or at least reduced substantially as would foreclosures.

Seems like it could be a win/win/win for all sides of this business triangle.

Dania Beach

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