Most property owners are taking steps to assist tenants who are struggling financially due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic—that's backed by research from the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC).
The past few days have seen an onslaught of news about the pending expiration of the federal eviction moratorium and the robust but slow allocation of billions of dollars in rental assistance to benefit both landlords and tenants. Coupled with that have been emerging reports related to the increasing popularity of single-family rentals as a form of investment. A report about investors infiltrating the housing market revealed their market share in single-family homes and condos rising as it dropped in apartments in 2020. Also on the rise is institutional investment in single-family renting, especially build-to-rent. The NMHC study examines property owners' behavior in the face of the COVID-related economic crisis and contains lessons about practices that make the most sense into the future, according to NMHC President Doug Bibby.
“At the onset of the pandemic we issued a call to our industry to halt evictions, create payment plans, and work with residents as they faced this unprecedented hardship. The new data demonstrate how both the multifamily industry and residents alike made monumental sacrifices to meet their obligations during this crisis,” Bibby said. “As we transition away from these emergency pandemic orders, we ask apartment firms to continue their efforts to work with residents during this wind-down period.”
The NMHC indicates that with the distribution of nearly $47 billion in rental assistance, the rental market is stable enough for the moratorium to end July 31.
"As we transition away from these emergency pandemic orders, we ask [property owners] to continue their efforts to work with residents during this wind-down period.”
Through its research, the NMHC issued a key actions that property owners can take to avoid evictions:
- Encourage residents to seek rental assistance and apply on behalf of residents or assist with the application process where able. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just released a new tool that helps landlords do just that.
- Offer solutions including payment plans, deferments and extended or flexible lease periods for residents who fell behind in rent payments due to the pandemic.
- Provide notice of at least 30 days to residents before filing an eviction for non-payment of rental obligations.
- Work with jurisdictions to break down artificial barriers to rental assistance benefits that stand in the way of residents receiving the help they need—for example, onerous documentation requirements.
- Identify governmental and community resources to broadly help residents secure food, financial assistance and healthcare and share that information with residents.
- Communicate with residents that it is a priority for the industry to partner with them to help them retain their housing.
The NMHC Pulse Survey on Eviction Mitigation Practices queried 74 institutional owners, 100% of whom responded that they had offered solutions for residents facing financial hardships. The most widely offered assistance options included payment plans, waived late fees, deferred payments, altered lease terms, cash for keys, and fee-free credit card transactions. The full study is available at NMHC.com.