The one-month extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium was good news for tenants, but another nail in the coffin for some struggling landlords.
Groups representing homeowners have pushed to end the moratorium and are now warning that an extra month will put some of those homeowners out of business.
“With each passing month the risk of losing an ever-increasing number of rental housing units further increases, ultimately jeopardizing the availability of safe, sustainable and affordable housing for all Americans,” wrote Bob Pinnegar, CEO of the National Apartment Association, in a press release. “Flawed eviction moratoria leave tenants with insurmountable debt and housing providers hold the sack as our country’s housing affordability crisis turns into a housing affordability disaster.”
The majority of landowners in the country are individual investors. They own about 23 million units in 17 million properties, according to the US census. More than 6 million tenant households are behind on rent, also according to the census. The owners have virtually no recourse.
Howard Simon owns a small apartment building in Massachusetts with three rental units. He hasn’t received rent from either of them since last October and has lost about $ 7,000 so far.
“I have mortgages, I have expenses for repairs to this particular building, I am losing a third of the rent just because of that,” Simon said. “And you know the other tenants who occupy the other two units, they are doing their best and doing their best.”
Simon contacted the delinquent tenants but said they would not respond and seek the help available to them. While about $ 34 billion in federal aid has been distributed to states for rent and utilities, handing that money over to landlords has been an onerous process because the tenant has to be involved.
“In my particular case, the tenant isn’t even cooperating to complete the application. I’m just a small landlord and I’m not a big business like a lot of other big rental organizations, so although the funding is very useful, if the tenant does not cooperate, everything collapses, ”said Simon.
Prior to the extension of the deportation ban, there would have been around 473,000 deportation requests in July and August, according to Zillow’s calculations from census estimates. This is a drop of about 100,000 from what was forecast last March. The improvement is due to federal assistance reaching some tenants as well as an overall improvement in the economy and employment. The numbers are expected to drop further with an additional month’s break.
Yet homeowners say they are angry with the way federal aid, $ 46 billion from two different relief programs, has been both allocated and distributed.
“If the rental aid bureaucracy is a monster, then the local governments that created them are Dr. Frankenstein,” said Dean Hunter, CEO of the Small Multifamily Owners Association and himself the owner. “They called on states and cities to create entirely new infrastructure to get the money, instead of using existing community organizations and safety nets.”
Hunter argues that small homeowners are treated like big businesses, but should have been included in the small business assistance program, the Paycheck Protection Program instead.
“This is the most excessive and extensive private takeover of my life,” said Hunter. “The moratorium on evictions is killing small landlords, not the pandemic.
After extending the moratorium, the Biden administration outlined steps it would take to further help tenants and landlords. He said the US Treasury would clarify “how beneficiaries can achieve economies of scale by obtaining bulk information from utility providers and owners of multiple units to help speed up the determination of household eligibility and consolidate, in a single payment, the amounts approved for the benefit of several eligible tenants.
That, and other state and local government efforts, should help some, but if homeowners don’t get the relief they need, there will be ramifications for the wider housing market.
“What’s going to be a tsunami is a loss of affordable, natural housing, because small landlords are going to sell their properties,” Hunter said.