Housing providers are increasingly facing hardships after months of missed payments from tenants due to pandemic-related struggles. Mom-and-pop owners—who account for about half of the nation’s rental property owners—may be among the hardest hit, but eviction moratoriums leave them with little recourse.
The National Association of REALTORS®, along with other housing organizations, have advocated for struggling tenants since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but now they’re urging lawmakers not to forget that housing providers need help, too.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first issued a national moratorium on evictions—in the name of public health—last September to help those affected by the pandemic’s economic toll. The moratorium has since been extended through June 30. The CDC order prohibits housing providers from evicting tenants for non-payment of rent if the tenant submits a written declaration that they are unable to afford full rental payment.
Nearly 9 million households are reportedly behind on their rental payments, according to data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
This Monday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau furthered its protections of tenants by announcing an interim rule stating that property owners using debt collectors and those engaging in eviction proceedings on their behalf (including attorneys) who wrongfully evict tenants could face federal and state prosecution as well as private lawsuits by individuals negatively impacted.
“Over 50% of the nation’s rental housing providers are mom-and-pop owners, who rely on their few units as their only source of income,” Bob Pinnegar, president of the National Apartment Association, told CNBC earlier this year. “Reserves are running out, and in many cases are exhausted.”
Many in the housing industry say that the rental assistance available is not nearly enough. Also, distribution among states has reportedly been slow. In January, NAR joined other housing groups to urge federal agencies to provide more information on the distribution of billions of dollars in rental assistance. NAR has been among the housing organizations advocating for greater federal rental assistance since the start of the pandemic. So far, lawmakers allocated $25 billion in 2020 toward rental assistance through coronavirus relief bills and an additional $21 billion in March.
“No business can survive while forgoing steady income for a year,” says Charlie Oppler, NAR’s president. “If mom-and-pop property owners are put in a position where they can no longer sustain their small businesses, every tenant living there would be left without a proper home.”
The National Council of State Housing Agencies is tracking the individual state programs on the distribution of emergency rental assistance funding to housing providers and renters who qualify. Also, CFPB issued updated information on Monday about rental assistance programs available for renters and property owners.