Landlords Getting a Bit of the Brunt

There’s a lot to be said about making rent through a pandemic, and Oregon’s moratorium on evictions was meant to alleviate hardship for people just getting by. But there were unintended consequences for landlords, OregonLive reported. 

Gov. Kate Brown issued a moratorium on rental evictions in March, as coronavirus began spreading rapidly throughout U.S. communities. Many were put out of work as a result of draconian lockdown measures implemented in response to the pandemic, and the moratorium, which runs through the end of the year, having twice been extended at the state level, was meant to ease the financial burden upon tenants.  

But the unforeseen effects of the moratorium have taken their toll upon landlords. Between 12% and 15% of renters statewide have become delinquent on their payments since the lockdowns were instituted, according to industry advocacy group Multifamily NW. A small study out of Portland State University found that 166 renters – 35% of those surveyed – owed missed or late rent.   

But the moratorium on rent doesn’t extend to debts owed by the property owners, putting them in a tough position — pay the bills without collecting rent, or face foreclosure.  

Where larger rental corporations may be able to remain financially solvent through the tough economic environment, about 41% of landlords are individual investors, not companies, and the burden hits them much harder  

Landlords said they hope for the development of an option to work individually with renters to make payments or to be granted access to state relief funds to avoid substantial financial loss.  

And a $60 million allocation of federal coronavirus relief funds meant to help renters make payments in Oregon has been described as being woefully inadequate to meet all needs.   

Brown extended the moratorium on foreclosure through the end of 2020 for landlords willing to negotiate forbearance with their creditors, but there hasn’t been any such olive branch extended for the purposes of paying bills such as property utilities.   

The Issue of Housing  

Housing is already a highly contentious issue in Oregon. Portland officials voted earlier this year to force landlords who raise rental rates to pay the relocation costs of tenants who chose to move out. City water prices increased this year and property taxes came due Nov. 16. Plus, state law stipulates that counties apply interest to properties holding delinquent accounts. 

Renters in Oregon do not need to provide evidence of being affected by COVID-19 to be eligible to receive relief, however federal relief programs do impose such standards. Representatives of the housing industry pushed back against the absence of those requirements, which they say have contributed negatively to those who rely on rental income. 

Some suggest that the moratoriums end at the new year could bring about a wave of evictions and foreclosures, further exacerbating issues of houselessness and poverty.  

If you are facing housing challenges due to COVID-19, the City of Corvallis wants to help. They have set up this web site with information to help.  

By Gabriel Perry