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Smaller-Scale Property Investors Feel Mounting Fiscal Pressure

Smaller-scale landlords report feeling increasing pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related forbearance plans and eviction moratoria.

A co-study by Urban Institute and Avail, a platform that periodically surveys its landlords and tenants, showed 35.2% of the surveyed property owners did not receive 100% of rent payments for September, and 38.1% did not expect to receive full rent payments in October.

"This percentage reflects a combination of three factors: vacancies, tenants who did not pay their full rent, and tenants who were offered a discount or rent deferment. Among landlords who said they did not receive full rental payment in September, more than three-quarters said it was because their tenant did not or could not pay full rent."

Urban Institute research fellows Jung Hyun Choi and Laurie Goodman concluded that heading into 2021 landlords who own fewer than 10 properties feel mounting pressure to sell.

Some 31% of responding landlords said they had felt more financial pressure to sell their properties during the pandemic than before the pandemic. The reason, for more than half, is the loss of rental income from tenants who are exempt from eviction due to the pandemic.

Two other factors that affect a need to sell include the landlord’s income and whether they have a mortgage.

"Higher-income landlords and those without a mortgage face less pressure to sell their properties. More than 47% of landlords with under $50,000 of income reported increased pressure to sell, versus just over 20% of landlords with income of $150,000 or more," according to the survey. "Additionally, 32.2% of landlords with a mortgage said they experienced increased pressure to sell their properties—higher by 6 percentage points than the share for landlords without a mortgage."

These so-called "mom and pop landlords" also feel increasing pressure to heighten screening of potential tenants, which the Institute notes could contribute to a housing shortage in lower-income and minority neighborhoods.

"Because rental properties owned by mom-and-pop landlords are generally more affordable than those owned by institutional investors, this pressure could cause the housing market—which already had a dearth of available units before the COVID-19 pandemic—to lose even more lower-priced rental housing," the researchers said.

Avail reported that landlords who responded to the study lamented the lack of government assistance. Almost 40% of respondents anticipate more financial struggles through the remainder of the year because of the extension of the federal eviction moratorium, and almost 35% said they expect the burden to increase due to the expiration of unemployment insurance benefits.

Urban Institute typically wraps up its housing studies with suggested solutions. In this case, those are focused on policy. Read the entire report here.

"The Avail survey shows that the months ahead will be critical: more financial support is needed for renters, either through increases and extensions in unemployment insurance or through direct rental assistance," reported the researchers. "A lack of financial support would affect both renters and their landlords, potentially forcing many individual landlords to sell their properties and leaving renters with even fewer affordable housing options."

 

 

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others.
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