On behalf of the 40 million Americans who call an apartment home and the 17.5 million jobs the industry supports, the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) is suggesting six actions landlords can take to support their residents in light of the developments surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a release.
“This crisis is testing all of us – every industry, every family. No one should lose the roof over their head during a pandemic. That’s why our members are taking action and why NMHC proactively issued a series of principles to assist renters, including a halt to COVID-19 related evictions and the establishment of payment plans for residents who are unable to pay their rent because of the outbreak,” NMHC President Doug Bibby said in a release.
“We welcome the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s decision to offer mortgage forbearance to multifamily housing property owners who suspend evictions for those who have been financially impacted by this public health emergency. This is a necessary step. Most property owners are small businesses and they are committed to working with public officials and residents to keep families safe during this national crisis,” Bibby said.
6 actions landlords can take
The NMHC suggests landlords and apartment firms consider adopting the following principles to help America’s renters retain their housing during this crisis.
No. 1 – Halt evictions for 90 days for those who can show they have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (This would not apply to evictions for other lease violations, such as property damage, criminal activity or endangering the safety of other residents of the community.)
No. 2 – Avoid rent increases for 90 days to help residents weather the crisis.
No. 3 – Create payment plans for residents who are unable to pay their rent because of the outbreak, and waive late fees for those residents.
No. 4 – Identify governmental and community resources to help residents secure food, financial assistance and healthcare, and share that information with residents.
No. 5 – Communicate to residents that it is a priority for the industry to partner with them to help them retain their housing.
No. 6 – Develop a response plan for potential COVID-19 exposure.
“We also recognize that most rental properties are owned by individuals and small businesses that have financial obligations, including mortgages, utilities, payroll, insurance and taxes,” the NMHC said in the release.
“If residents cannot pay their full rent obligations because of the COVID-19 outbreak, then owners are at risk of not meeting their own financial obligations. This puts the individual property and the larger community in which it is located at risk.
“Congress must extend mortgage forbearance to rental property owners and extend similar protections to other financial obligations such as insurance premiums, utility service payments and tax liabilities. Forbearance is needed to prevent foreclosure and other adverse actions such as lien placements, utility shut-offs, defaults, and judgments that would negatively impact the viability of the property’s continued operation and ultimately put its residents at risk of additional disruption.
“We also continue to call on Congress to provide disaster-housing assistance for renters who are suffering from income disruption as a result of the pandemic.
“At a time when many American workers are being encouraged to work from home, multifamily owners and operators are on the front lines, keeping residents cared for and safe in their apartment homes,” the NMHC said in the release about 6 actions landlords can take.
“These are trying, even desperate times, and all of us face grim uncertainty in the days ahead. However, by working together – apartment residents, owners and operators, and lawmakers at all levels of government – we can develop solutions to the evolving challenges and keep Americans housed,” the association said.
Additional materials and resources on from the NMHC on COVID-19 can be found here.
Based in Washington, D.C., the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) is the leadership of the trillion-dollar apartment industry. NMHC provides a forum for insight, advocacy and action that enables both members and the communities they help build to thrive. For more information, contact NMHC at 202/974-2300, e-mail the Council at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit NMHC’s website at www.nmhc.org.