City of St. Louis officials are taking sides in disputes between landlords and tenants, and they are decidedly on the side of the tenants. The city just passed a bill to use tax funds to pay for lawyers for tenants facing eviction. This is, it bears emphasizing, a civil matter, not a criminal matter. City government has no business involving itself and using tax dollars to assist one party in a civil dispute.
St. Louis already has a ridiculous “source of income” rule that forbids landlords from rejecting Section 8 housing vouchers from applicants. Keep in mind that Section 8 is a federal program, and the federal government has no such requirement for landlords. The program is supposed to be voluntary, yet the city is making participation mandatory. Clayton, Webster Groves, and Maplewood also have this terrible policy on their books.
Missouri has a state law forbidding rent control rules, so at least St. Louis can’t pass that next.
Housing in St. Louis is very affordable. Passing laws that limit how and to whom landlords rent their property limits supply and makes housing more expensive. (Obviously, there are anti-discrimination rules for housing that everyone supports.)
Using City of St. Louis tax dollars to assist tenants in their civil disputes against landlords is an inappropriate use of tax dollars. I know, I know, city officials will say they are just paying for “representation,” not taking sides, but if you hire a lawyer for one party and not the other you are clearly taking sides.
The eviction moratorium during the pandemic did plenty of damage to landlords, even if it may have been an unfortunate, short-term necessity. Using city tax funds to oppose landlords in court is just another bad decision by elected officials who likely claim they want more affordable housing. This move will give them less.