** Disclaimer – the information contained in this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. It is meant to provide a basic understanding of the issue and is in large part an opinion **
Without a doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of nearly every person in one way or another. The complexity of the issues at hand are much too vast and, in many cases, too disproportionate to concisely weave an all-encompassing answer into a single blog post, so we will not attempt to do so. What we would like to provide is some general context of the current COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium and its overall impact to not only tenants, but the landlords who own investment properties moving into the future.
No doubt, the moratorium on evictions has helped keep millions of people safe and in housing who otherwise might have been evicted since the start of the pandemic. There is clearly a lot of positive in that fact alone. However, the moratorium has significant shortcomings that fail to address the disproportionate amount of financial burden placed on landlords. Despite this, the moratorium has again been extended through December 2021 (here in Oregon where we are located).
This means that landlords cannot evict tenants who have been impacted by the pandemic for non-payment of rents for at least another six and a half months.
Protections and legislation have been passed to provide rent relief and assistance to landlords, but in many cases those take time and may take longer to receive then some landlords have the ability to hang on for. Nonpayment does not necessarily mean that back payments will not become due of the tenant(s), but there are no guarantees that the Moratorium will not be extended again, or that a tenant will instantly be able to begin making payments again as soon as those are lifted. So the pressing questions for landlords become…How does a tenant make up back rents? Can they? Will they? When?
No easy answer is available and clearly, as mentioned above, the impact is not necessarily greater to any one party of the equation.
Keeping a large portion of the population who are struggling financially due to the pandemic housed is humane. Placing these folks in a position to get back on their feet fully and to make good on the commitment they made when signing a lease will take some time, but we appear to be headed in the right direction.
Landlords, small or large, should not be left to shoulder the financial burden of nonpayment entirely. Their investments should not be stripped of their value and they should not be forced to sell or into foreclosure.
The reality is that many tenants will get back in a position to pay rents moving forward, while some may not. Some may choose to do so, while some may choose not to. Many landlords will be able to take advantage of assistance and use their reserves in the short term to bridge any gap, while others will be forced to sell their investment properties or in some cases be faced with foreclosure.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has not been equally fair/unfair to anyone. The answers aren’t easy. The answers aren’t clear as of yet. The only real solution and a common theme of how we as Americans can and will overcome the challenges we are faced with is to find a way to work together. To communicate with one another to ensure the rental population remains housed, while landlords are able to ensure the security of their rental investments.
Both tenants and landlords should continue to reach out to their local government and seek information for best options moving forward. While the answers may not solve the problem entirely, there are programs available to help nearly anyone who is faced with hardship. These programs, general understanding and compassion coupled with a commitment to communication by all parties, we can and will get through this challenge together.