Money, forbearance, and evictions: Landlords want it all from Washington

Major lobbying groups make several asks of Congress

Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi (Credit: Samuel Corum/Getty Images and Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi (Credit: Samuel Corum/Getty Images and Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Trade groups representing the biggest residential players have asked the federal government for an array of relief measures, while also requesting the right to keep evicting renters.

In an April 7 letter addressed to the White House Coronavirus Task Force and Congress, a dozen landlord and developer groups called for the creation of an emergency rental assistance program, financial help in paying “property taxes, insurance payments, utility services, and the like,” and a Federal Reserve line of credit for mortgage services.

Also, the property owners urged Congress and the White House to expand the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program to multifamily businesses, who were conspicuous by their absence in the program’s initial rollout.

The groups, which range from the National Apartment Association and the National Association of Realtors to the National Multifamily Housing Council, also want more money toward the Agricultural Department’s rural-development and rental-assistance programs.

The demands come at a time when literally trillions of federal dollars are being spent to stem economic calamity from the coronavirus pandemic. The property owner trades want Congress to include the measures in a “Phase 4 recovery package,” lingo used to describe the next economic stimulus bill that federal lawmakers are anticipated to hammer out later this month.

In addition to vying for their slice of the stimulus pie, property owners also want to still kick out delinquent tenants, and ensure there are as many correctives to help landlords as there are for renters.

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The letter’s call for emergency rental relief partly suggests landlords and tenants are in this together, arguing prior stimulus measures did not deal with “the financial challenges that both the renters and rental industry are now facing.”

However, the letter proceeds to ask Congress to clarify that a federal moratorium on evictions, which just applies to properties with federal mortgage guarantees, “be limited to those negatively impacted by COVID-19.”

“Protections offered should not only be limited to those adversely affected by the outbreak, but also require residents to officially notify the property owner,” and, “acknowledge the contractual terms of the lease remain in effect,” the letter reads.

Also, the property owners seek to “reconcile forbearance and eviction and moratorium timelines,” taking issue with the fact that the present federal eviction moratorium is 120 days, while the mortgage payment break goes for 90 days. The groups additionally want mortgage forbearance expanded to all multifamily loan products.

The laundry list comes as battle lines are being drawn, erased, and redrawn between landlords, renters, banks, and federal and state governments. Landlords have at times portrayed themselves as hapless middlemen between righteous renters and indifferent banks and government officials, while also sometimes voicing sympathy and even camaraderie with renters.

Additional groups who signed the letter are CCIM Institute, Council for Affordable and Rural Housing Institute of Real Estate Management, Institute for Responsible Housing Preservation, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Affordable Housing Management Association, National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Housing Cooperatives, and the National Leased Housing Association.