The outbreak of the coronavirus last year continues to impact the nation socially, medically, and (not surprisingly) financially in major ways. Our hospital systems are stressed, families have gone months without seeing each other, and families are struggling with unemployment issues that are having a ripple effect in the rental industry. Let’s take a closer look at this problem and how it is currently being dealt with in Massachusetts and across the nation.
What the Statistics Tell Us
According to a study conducted on 1,000 U.S. renters by Entrata, a property management software company, showed that most of the study participants started the COVID-19 lockdown with virtually no savings and had to work with apartment management to defer or cancel rent payments. Many renters reported using their stimulus checks to keep a roof over their heads.
Other national research estimates that one third of all tenants did not pay their full April rent on time. Some did not pay because they had lost all sources of income and did not have sufficient savings to cover their bills. Others were waiting for their stimulus checks to arrive before paying the rent.
Closer to home, newly appointed Boston Mayor, Kim Janey announced late in March that $50 million in new funding for the city’s Rental Relief Fund would be released.
The human impact of these difficulties goes well beyond these statistics and may never really fully be understood.
What to Expect Regarding Rental Payments & Potential Evictions
While this issue is extremely fluid and may change and evolve over the next few months, this is where we stand right now.
Halt on Evictions
Most states have implemented a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent during the pandemic. More specifically, Nolo, an online legal resource states that, “On September 1, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Agency Order titled Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19 (Order). The Order went into effect on September 4, 2020, and was extended on December 27, 2021. (See Section 502 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.). The CDC’s latest order extends the residential eviction ban until at least June 30, 2021.”
Pause on Utility Shut Offs
In addition to halting evictions for this year, most states have and paused utility shut-offs due to non-payment. It is a temporary pause, not forgiveness, of the amount owed.
Rent Relief Bills
Most rental property owners do not have the luxury of considering rent forgiveness. State governments, however, have started programs for Rent Relief that can help take the pressure off both the tenants and the property owners who also need the income to pay their bills. Massachusetts Rent Relief bill details can be found here for reference.