Is a Massive Wave of Evictions Coming?
The Corona Virus shutdown continues to hurt US landlords and property managers in many ways. And partial shutdowns may continue if we see a resurgence in October/November.
And what happens when big numbers of tenants can’t work, don’t have income alternatives, financial aid programs dry up, and are legally able to avoid paying their rent via government rent moratoriums?
The fallout from coming rent defaults might extend well beyond the next 3 months. Experts aren’t taking heed of this issue, but it’s bound to dominate the news in a few short months from now.
Challenges, Fallout and Solutions
Let’s take a look at the eviction potential, the cost, renter attitudes, and then consider what the government’s next moves might be. How about your situation? Will traditional rent collection practices be fruitful in the post Covid 19 landscape?
Please do leave a comment about your default rate and how you’ll be handling this as a business owner. See tenant rent assistance programs at bottom.
Conflicting Reports on Rent Defaults
Conflicting reports about current rent defaults are confusing the issue. The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) reported about 1/3rd of renters didn’t make their April rent payments (+18% from March), yet another report found rent defaults down only 11%. We’re waiting for the May rent default report out next week.
This was a sizable survey, however in cities such as NYC, defaults might be much higher. This may tell us that in those cities most afflicted by Covid 19, the coming eviction rate might be much higher.
24 Million Unemployed in the US Alone
In the US 24 million more people are unemployed while millions of others earn minimal pay. This creates the potential for massive rent payment defaults leading to a wave of evictions.
Before the Corona Virus struck, there were already 300,000 evictions in US courts each month (Washington Post report (washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/04/08/eviction-coronavirus-rent-homelessness/). Some are worried about dire consequences for landlords too.
The point of this post is that a drop in rent payments means landlords and tenants need to prepare for this together, rather than responding after the fact.
The Biggest Challenge for Landlords Ever
Landlords are facing an even higher cost heading into the later summer months when government rent moratoriums end. At that point, rent and back rent will be due. The big worry is that tenants won’t have money for either, will squat in their units, leaving an unrentable unit. Add to this is a massive wave of delayed tenant maintenance requests and it may push landlords to the brink. Reports are that a few are already locking tenants out.
It’s bad enough when a business can’t collect its accounts receivables. But when they can’t move onto a new customer to keep cash flow positive, the company’s survival is in jeopardy. More industry people foresee a massive wave of evictions leading to tossing tenants physically to the curb and facing endless appearances in court.
Evictions are More Common than Anyone Realizes
Marketplace.org reports that in the USA, about 900,000 evictions happen each year. This equates to 2.3 million people (6300 per day) evicted including children.
What Does an Eviction Usually Cost?
“Expenses extend farther than the cost of the eviction itself. They also include other related expenses that you may not have factored in. Maintenance fees, lost rent, court costs, and other legal fees are all part of an eviction. TransUnion SmartMove data found that total eviction-related expenses for property managers averages $3,500 and can take as long as 3-4 weeks for the eviction process to run its course.” — from TransUnion/SmartMove report.
Each state and country has its own guidelines, documents, court processing fees, and laws pertaining to tenant eviction. In Ontario, Canada, it could take up to 103 days to evict a tenant. How long will it take with courts facing a huge backlog of legal cases? On a whole, this is a mess.
Tough Summer For Tenants and Landlords Coming?
Some might think it’s unfair when tenants get prolonged wage subsidies from the government under hardship claims, but then don’t pay their rent. Government programs haven’t addressed the special double negative that landlords face.
When rent moratoriums end, many landlords will pursue removal of non paying tenants. Even with the court action launched, it may take some time to collect, if they ever do. For some, it might only be more time wasted until they can get the units rentable again and occupied by paying tenants.
Backlash from Tenants
There are tenants who don’t care a great deal about the plight of landlords who they may feel are the wealthy elite.
There is talk of mass boycotts of rent as a way of stopping landlords from carrying out evictions. Aside from evictions is the possible action by creditors against rental property owners. Will the banks be willing to lend to landlords? On a side note, is whether rent prices will drop? Research shows that rents are still climbing (Zillow). The market itself won’t offer relief.
After 3 to 6 months of unpaid rent, most landlords would be on the brink of insolvency. In Los Angeles, the rent moratorium is a staggering 12 months. Tenants are battling with the buy food or pay rent dilemma. So the question we want to ask is what will happen as the summer passes?
Will landlords and tenants be booted out the banks and mortgage companies? Will multifamily property management companies use a team of lawyers to clean house?
A new report from the Legal Service Corporation, an independent non-profit organization with 800 offices, suggests that landlords and tenants will soon be facing each other in court in unprecedented numbers. One has to ask how the courts can even handle the number of cases, and whether landlords will resort to physically locking tenants out and removing their possessions.
As the emotion gets heated, this could be one of the big stories of the summer season. Will we see changes to the rental laws in all countries?
Initiating an Eviction
If you have to start a tenant eviction process, you’ll be assured you have all your bases covered and aren’t in for a business ending situation. Although the government is paying out aid for tenants, it’s uncertain how much of that landlords will receive in rent. It’s not that all tenants are bad. They probably won’t have enough money. Some may take a full year to pay you back.
By August if the economy is roaring again, evictions will likely be the number one topic on landlord forums and search engines. The courts could be backlogged.
Please bookmark this post as we’ll continue to follow up on the events of the summer as they unfold
What happens this summer could act as a precedent for the courts going forward. It’s likely the Corona Virus pandemic could rewrite how we live and do business from 2o2o onward.
Local Rent Assistance Resources
Help your tenants out by telling them about funds available. For instance, Dallas is offering 3 months rent assistance. Please blog more and discuss with your city council to encourage them to offer a similar program in your city and build a positive attitude that helps everyone find a solution to this eviction crisis.
If you know of any additional public or private sources of rent assistance, please let us know.
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