The National Multifamily Housing Council reports that only 69% of renters paid their rent by April 5. For comparison, last month, 81% had paid their rent by March 5. Last year’s figure for April was 82%. This figure should give lawmakers and business owners pause during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s hoped that as unemployment and stimulus money is paid out, renters can make their payments, but this 12% drop in rent payments demonstrates just one challenge facing our nation.
Evictions on hold, but this may not be enough
The NMHC is recommending short-term financial assistance to renters who have lost their job due to the pandemic instead of just placing a moratorium on evictions. Putting a halt on evictions simply delays the inevitable. Renters who lost a job won’t simply be able to make back payments in a few months. The Texas Supreme Court has placed a moratorium on evictions through June 1. HUD extends this through July 24 for government-assisted housing.
A group in Colorado is asking for a rent strike, which in theory sounds effective. The problem is that landlords still have their own bills to pay, utilities, maintenance, mortgages and more. A rent freeze could create a tidal wave of issues that will further extend the economic uncertainty. Although some are hoping that Congress will address this huge problem, it could take a few weeks to get direct relief.
What are some options?
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson says, “Have a heart, have a heart. These are incredibly difficult times for everyone.” He also asked renters to work with their landlords, because they have bills, too. NMHC is asking its members to:
• Waive late fees and administrative costs over the next month
• Give residents payment plans (put them in writing)
• Share resources to help residents
Renters need to be proactive and talk to landlords about their situation. And landlords would be wise to openly communicate their limits to renters – transparency could be the difference between flipping a unit and praying for a renter, and a few tough months. These are difficult times. Everyone is going to have to work together to find solutions to alleviate the effects of this pandemic.