Rent Cancellation Advocate Rashida Tlaib Cleaned Up as Landlord During Pandemic

'Squad' member collected rent as she vilified landlords

Representative Rashida Tlaib
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) / Getty Images
August 17, 2021

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) collected up to $50,000 in rent payments last year, even as she publicly criticized landlords and supported an eviction moratorium that has hurt other small landlords.

Tlaib—who in December stressed the need to protect Americans from "landlords and bill collectors in the midst of a pandemic"—disclosed in an annual financial statement this month that she took in between $15,000 and $50,000 in rent on a Detroit property.

Tlaib is not the only "Squad" member who has raked in thousands of dollars as a landlord. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.) collected up to $15,000 in rental income in both 2019 and 2020 through a Boston property she owns, her financial disclosures show. Like Tlaib, Pressley slammed landlords for collecting rent during the pandemic, calling the issue "literally a matter of life and death."

While Tlaib collected rent from her tenants, other small landlords in the United States have not been so lucky. Numerous reports have detailed small landlords' struggles to make ends meet amid the eviction moratorium, which Tlaib has supported since early last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented a ban on evictions last September. The Biden administration extended the eviction freeze through October of this year.

Tlaib, Pressley, and other "Squad" members introduced legislation to cancel rent and mortgage payments. The bill would require the federal government to reimburse landlords for lost rent during the pandemic, allowing Tlaib and Pressley to recoup any potential losses.

"Cancelling rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the COVID-19 virus pandemic would relieve financial pressure, allow residents to stay home from work without the added concern of losing their housing and limit the spread of the virus," Tlaib said in March 2020.

Tlaib has at times portrayed landlords as preying on their renters.

"Always tons of agreement for tools of war and destroying families abroad, but never this much enthusiasm for protecting American families at home from landlords and bill collectors in the midst of a pandemic," she tweeted in December.

Tlaib did not disclose the address for the rental property on her financial statement, though details from her filings and local real estate records obtained by the Washington Free Beacon suggest she purchased the property using a $118,600 loan in 2016. Two years later, Tlaib listed the property for $2,000 a month rent before lowering the asking price to $1,800. Assuming Tlaib has not changed the monthly price, she collected rent for at least eight months in 2020, meaning she received payments throughout the pandemic.

According to local real estate records, Tlaib refinanced the three-bedroom home as a multifamily investment property in April 2019. The designation requires the Democrat to maintain rent loss insurance.

Neither Tlaib nor Pressley returned requests for comment.