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What a Democratic Senate Could Mean for Property Owners

Georgia's election results will impact struggling homeowners and rental property investors alike,  political and housing-economics pundits predict.

"With Democrats securing a majority in the Senate, a number of relief measures targeted at renters struggling amid the pandemic—including a right to counsel for those facing eviction and a larger pot of money for back rent—now have a better chance of materializing," reported Annie Nova for CNB [1]C.

Funds for back rent would benefit not only the renter but also owners of single-family rentals who recently have reported feeling increasing pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related forbearance plans and eviction moratoria, according to a late 2020 co-study by Urban Institute [2] and Avail [3], a platform that periodically surveys its landlords and tenants.

"Democrats have a rare opportunity to directly and swiftly end the eviction crisis and prevent severe harm to renters and landlords nationwide," Emily Benfer [4], a visiting law professor at Wake Forest University told CNBC.

Democrats and Republicans last month [5] struck a deal on a second stimulus package. It extended the national eviction ban through January and allocated $25 billion for rental assistance. Still, the relief was but a fraction of what Democrats had suggested.

In a springtime proposal known as the Heroes Act, Democrats requested $100 billion for rental assistance as well as a $75 billion fund to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, Nova reported.

President-elect Joe Biden has suggested he would support [6]such an act.

Back in July, VP-elect Kamala Harris, as a senator, introduced legislation [7] that would ban all evictions and foreclosures for one year. Under her plan, renters would receive extra time to repay missed housing bills and would be guaranteed a right to counsel if evicted.

The VP's plan also calls for a ban on rent increases and late fees.

Last fall, researchers at WalletHub examined possible political setups according to 13 key economic performance indicators—ranging from “real gross domestic product (GDP) growth” to “poverty rate” to the “consumer and mortgage debt per capita”—in order to determine the best political mix for various markets including housing [8].

Those researchers determined that a blended congress, along with a Democratic president—might have been "best" for the overall economic health of the housing market as well as for that per capita state of consumer and mortgage debt. That report, along with data points and methodology, can be found at WalletHub.com [9].