As the COVID-19 crisis has diminished many renters’ ability to pay rent, apartment operators are working with their residents who are struggling with income loss.
With late fees for missed payments and evictions for nonpayment essentially halted, most operators are taking relief measures a step further and intend to offer repayment plans for renters who have suffered job loss or income reduction as millions of Americans are told to stay home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
More than 90% of industry professionals indicated their intent to offer repayment plans in a poll conducted during a recent RealPage webcast on the impact of COVID-19 on the apartment industry.
“The overwhelming majority of apartment owners and managers are following NMHC’s guidance to pursue payment plans that give their residents unprecedented flexibility given these unprecedented circumstances,” RealPage Deputy Chief Economist Jay Parsons said. “While it’s not a scientific survey, the poll included a large and diverse set of decision-makers across the apartment industry. The industry is clearly stepping up to find creative ways to protect both their residents and the 17.5 million jobs that depend on rental payments.”
The National Multifamily Housing Council, or NMHC, encourages operators to work with residents suffering financial hardship by avoiding rent increases, creating payment plans and identifying government and community resources offering aid to individuals.
One such resource is the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. On March 27, Congress passed the historic CARES Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package that includes direct payments to U.S. households and increase unemployment benefits. During that same week, unemployment claims surged to a record 6.6 million, illustrating the need for relief.
The CARES Act also places a 120-day moratorium on evictions and fees for late or missing rent payments across all properties with federally backed mortgages. While the act does provide some relief for the industry, NMHC cautions that it provides operators little recourse in cases where residents are able to pay rent but simply chose not to.
For more information on the CARES Act, watch the RealPage webcast, COVID-19: How the CARES Act Impacts You.