It’s a fair question to ask because funds intended for landlords have actually been received by very few of them. We are approaching two years of this pandemic, and less than 20% of funds intended for landlords have actually made it to them. Why have so many just expected landlords to shoulder the financial burden of keeping tenants in their homes? Has Wal-Mart been expected to give away free clothes to anyone who can’t afford them, just because people have a need for clothes? Has McDonalds been required to give away free hamburgers to everyone because food is a basic human right? Have pharmaceutical companies been required to provide medications for free, because people would get sick if they didn’t have them? I understand that funds have been earmarked for landlords, but whatever fraction of costs they will actually recover, seems like too small of a “thank you” and more like a kick in the teeth. 

The pandemic was about 10 minutes old before I received my first text from a tenant informing me that they were not going to be paying rent. They didn’t know when they could pay. I didn’t know if they ever would, even more texts followed. They all had good reasons to not pay; they had all been good tenants to that point. We talked about a payment plan and waiving late fees, I decided early that eviction was not a path I would want to go down. I had hope that the might of the U.S. Government would quickly intervene on behalf of both tenants and landlords, most of whom are “mom and pop” investors with only a few properties. I’m hoping still. 

Before the FHFA, the CDC, sovereign tribes, or churches got involved in mandating rules or paying rents for people – the “No Job, No Rent” crowd was out in full force and on the cover of every news source. Landlords became villains virtually overnight. Even though tenants were “allowed” to stop paying rent, landlords were required to keep water heaters replaced, keep furnaces running, and keep roofs repaired. None of these contractors have offered a pay-when-you-can program to landlords. How did a group of people, who epitomize the pursuit of the American dream, become a caricature representing the worst of capitalist greed? Why didn’t the signs say, “No Job, No Car Payment” or “No Job, No Cell Phone Payment?”

We can only hope this pandemic is about over. We are all still trying to digest what the end of the moratorium means for tenants and landlords alike. I can’t blame anyone for how they managed to survive this pandemic, but I do think that those of you who so quickly demonized landlords are the same people who bought all the toilet paper. 

 

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