April 1, 2020 was an uncertain day for property owners and renters alike. The reason? It marked the beginning of the first new month since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the U.S., and for many Americans, the rent was due.
We now know that an estimated 31% of renters nationwide failed to pay this month’s rent by April 5th. This means that countless landlords are also feeling the squeeze. According to HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau, 74% of all apartment properties across the country are owned by “mom-and-pop investors”, or those owning two to four rental units. For these landlords, rent is often depended upon to meet mortgage, property tax, and other household obligations — without it, the ripple effects of the current economic downturn will continue to be felt broadly.
Whether you are a tenant, a landlord, or just someone concerned about what this means for housing, here’s what you can do make the most of this situation:
1. Educate Yourself
There are many helpful resources out there for both landlords and tenants. However, because the laws vary by state and/or locality, it is important to refer to information applicable to where you live or own property. Here is a helpful guide for Bay Area tenants, while landlords in California can find some preliminary guidance here.
2. If You Need It, Seek Help
In the event of lost income, we encourage an open and honest dialogue between landlords and tenants. Many landlords are now offering flexible repayment plans. Above all, tenants limit their legal protections if they fail to establish a paper trail.
3. Contact Your Representatives
Only about $12B, or 0.6% of CARES Act funds, is earmarked for housing, and most of that money is meant for cities and states to support people who already benefit from public assistance. There needs to be further stimulus to ensure both tenants and landlords affected by COVID-19 can sustain themselves. The more voices our representatives hear this message from, the more likely they will prioritize comprehensive assistance. Click here to reach them.
While sometimes landlord-tenant relationships under strain become antagonistic, we should remind ourselves that we all need each other. We believe this is a time to build bridges, not burn them.
In the meantime, if there are any questions we can answer about the current situation, please get in touch: