Landlords struggling to stay afloat as evictions are halted nationwide amid pandemic

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Landlords in Austin are worried about the impact a new, national ban on evictions could have on the local housing market.

Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that due to the pandemic, renters cannot be evicted if they can’t afford to pay their rent, through the end of this year. It’s welcome news for renters who are hurting financially, however it’s concerning for landlords who are also struggling to pay bills and keep their properties.

“There’s a lot of fear of that, you know, 2009 scenario of properties being foreclosed on, you know, owners selling, because they can’t just make it work,” said Executive Vice President of the Austin Apartment Association Emily Blair.

Blair says as more people are having trouble paying rent, some Austin landlords are getting closer to that reality.

In addition, she says affordable housing properties could be disproportionately affected.

In June, the City of Austin provided a $1.2 million lottery of relief funds to tenants struggling to pay rent. The money was distributed directly to their landlords.

In July, the city announced a second relief program, called RENT 2.0, which will provide $17 million in rental assistance to Austinites over the course of several months. Austinites were invited to apply starting Aug. 19.

As of Wednesday, the Housing Authority City of Austin (HACA) told KXAN 3,851 renters had applied.

Last week, the first randomized drawing of applicants was done, and according to HACA, several are in the final approval stages.

Blair says landlords are happy it’ll provide some assistance. “But it cannot stand alone,” she said.

Blair adds in neighboring parts of Central Texas, there’s no help.

“We’ve been looking at different counties like Hays County, for example, doesn’t have a rental assistance program as of yet, either, and there’s obviously households and needs there,” Blair said.

The CDC’s eviction moratorium didn’t come with any kind of support for struggling landlords, so Blair says it’s up to those property owners and struggling tenants to urge their Congress members to pass some federal relief.

“The rental housing providers can’t carry it alone,” she said. “The city can’t carry it alone with their program. It needs to be supported by a larger sort of backing.”

The CDC eviction ban applies to all rental units in the nation. According to the White House, the order will apply to Americans who qualified for direct payments under the CARES Act, which covers anyone who earns less than $99,000 a year.

Applicants must also prove they’ve tried to get some form of government assistance for rent. They’ll also have to prove their current financial situation is a direct result of the pandemic.

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