The sweeping order effectively requires landlords to subsidize distressed tenants’ housing through the end of the year or face criminal penalties and hefty fines. That’s a tall order for the country’s 8 million independent landlords — most of whom lease a unit here or there on property they own without the financial backing of professional management companies.
“Everyone wants to point the finger and look at the Wall Street types that have invested in real estate, but that’s really a fraction of the market,” said Bob Pinnegar, CEO of the National Apartment Association. “Most of the rental housing we have in this country is provided by individuals who are simply running a small business and trying to stay afloat and survive.”
More than 22 million rental units, a little over half the rental housing in the country, are in single-family buildings with between one and four units, according to data compiled by the Urban Institute. And most of those buildings have a mortgage — meaning the property owners themselves still need to make their own monthly payments.
“In a four-unit building, if one person can’t pay rent you’ve just lost 25 percent of your income,” Pinnegar said.