Small-time landlords struggle during ongoing eviction moratorium

At one of Graves’s complexes, 14 of her 22 tenants are behind on rent. Some residents haven’t paid a cent since last June, and she said she’s been forced to tap into her personal savings to keep the business afloat. “The utilities, all those things, payroll, is coming out of my pocket,” she said.

Her opportunity to start collecting from her non-payers was pushed back again last week, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its ban on evictions through at least June. It’s a move that some legal experts say is beyond the CDC’s authority. But keeping people in their homes – and out of homeless shelters – “by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week, defending the move. Housing advocates praised the extension as “essential.”

To many rental property owners and landlords, the eviction moratorium is not only putting them in financial jeopardy, but also encouraging residents to amass large and likely un-payable debts. It’s also harming the greater effort to build up the nation’s affordable housing stock.

“It’s devastating,” said Richard St. Paul, founder and executive director of the New York City Small Homeowners Association. “Our members have been waiting, some a little over a year, some almost a year, for payments from a tenant.”