[Hpn] Fwd: [stop-polabuse] Criminalization reaches a new low in Texas

Graeme Bacque gbacque@colosseum.com
Thu, 10 Apr 2003 02:48:37 -0400


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  -------- Original Message --------
Subject: [stop-polabuse] Criminalization reaches a new low in Texas
Date: Wed, 09 Apr 2003 22:34:03 -0700
From: Michael Novick <antiracistaction_la@yahoo.com>
To: stop-polabuse@yahoogroups.com


PAY YOUR RENT OR GO TO JAIL (Oread Daily)

Better get your rent paid on time in Texas - or be prepared to go to
jail. At least that's what Rep. Leo Berman wants. Berman, who
receives a 100% rating from both the Young Conservatives of Texas and
the Christian Coalition, has put forth a bill that would criminalize
non-payment of rent. The bill modifies the "theft of service" section
of the Texas Penal Code so that anyone who lets back rent slide or
other rental payment for more than ten days after receiving notice
demanding payment could get slapped with criminal charges-anything
from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on how much they owe. Sandy
Rollins, executive director of the Texas Tenants Union suggests a
grim worst-case scenario of the bill's effects: Say you get laid off-
not exactly a far-fetched possibility for many of us these days. You
can't afford your $500 per month apartment, and your landlord evicts
you, terminating the lease. Oh, and by the way, he's sticking to the
terms of the Texas Apartment Association's model lease, by which
you're still liable for all the rent you would have paid under the
term of your original lease. You can't pay it, and he decides your
defaulting, so now it's all due at once-let's see...three months... $500...
whoops, that's $1,500. Under Berman's bill, that amount bumps you
into the "state jail felony" category, so now you could be looking at
up to two years in the lock-up and a fine of up to $10,000. If you
want your freedom, you've got ten days to pay. (Of course, these new
jail sentences will be funded from the pockets of taxpayers.)
Landlords can already sue to recover back rent as part of the
eviction process, or seize tenants' property to make up the
difference, Rollins points out. In that light, Berman's bill seems to
do nothing but add another intimidation tactic to the landlord's
arsenal.

Berman, of course, has received cash from the Texas Apartment
Association and Texas Association of Realtors (TAR). He was among
candidates listed by TAR to receive material and promotional support
from the organization in their campaign Such candidates they say are
recommended by local associations and approved by TREPAC trustees and
are described as candidates who will support business and private
property rights. They got that right.
Sources: OD reader, Texas Observer, StateLine, Texas Association of
Realtors, Texas House of Representatives



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    <tr>
      <th valign="baseline" align="right" nowrap="nowrap">Subject: </th>
      <td>[stop-polabuse] Criminalization reaches a new low in Texas</td>
    </tr>
    <tr>
      <th valign="baseline" align="right" nowrap="nowrap">Date: </th>
      <td>Wed, 09 Apr 2003 22:34:03 -0700</td>
    </tr>
    <tr>
      <th valign="baseline" align="right" nowrap="nowrap">From: </th>
      <td>Michael Novick <a class="moz-txt-link-rfc2396E" href="mailto:antiracistaction_la@yahoo.com">&lt;antiracistaction_la@yahoo.com&gt;</a></td>
    </tr>
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      <th valign="baseline" align="right" nowrap="nowrap">To: </th>
      <td><a class="moz-txt-link-abbreviated" href="mailto:stop-polabuse@yahoogroups.com">stop-polabuse@yahoogroups.com</a></td>
    </tr>
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<pre>PAY YOUR RENT OR GO TO JAIL (Oread Daily)

Better get your rent paid on time in Texas - or be prepared to go to
jail. At least that's what Rep. Leo Berman wants. Berman, who
receives a 100% rating from both the Young Conservatives of Texas and
the Christian Coalition, has put forth a bill that would criminalize
non-payment of rent. The bill modifies the "theft of service" section
of the Texas Penal Code so that anyone who lets back rent slide or
other rental payment for more than ten days after receiving notice
demanding payment could get slapped with criminal charges&#8211;anything
from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on how much they owe. Sandy
Rollins, executive director of the Texas Tenants Union suggests a
grim worst-case scenario of the bill's effects: Say you get laid off&#8211;
not exactly a far-fetched possibility for many of us these days. You
can't afford your $500 per month apartment, and your landlord evicts
you, terminating the lease. Oh, and by the way, he's sticking to the
terms of the Texas Apartment Association's model lease, by which
you're still liable for all the rent you would have paid under the
term of your original lease. You can't pay it, and he decides your
defaulting, so now it's all due at once&#8211;let's see&#8230;three months&#8230; $500&#8230;
whoops, that's $1,500. Under Berman's bill, that amount bumps you
into the "state jail felony" category, so now you could be looking at
up to two years in the lock-up and a fine of up to $10,000. If you
want your freedom, you've got ten days to pay. (Of course, these new
jail sentences will be funded from the pockets of taxpayers.)
Landlords can already sue to recover back rent as part of the
eviction process, or seize tenants' property to make up the
difference, Rollins points out. In that light, Berman's bill seems to
do nothing but add another intimidation tactic to the landlord's
arsenal.

Berman, of course, has received cash from the Texas Apartment
Association and Texas Association of Realtors (TAR). He was among
candidates listed by TAR to receive material and promotional support
from the organization in their campaign Such candidates they say are
recommended by local associations and approved by TREPAC trustees and
are described as candidates who will support business and private
property rights. They got that right.
Sources: OD reader, Texas Observer, StateLine, Texas Association of
Realtors, Texas House of Representatives



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