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Rental Landlords Lost $7.2B In Q4 From Missed Rent Payments

Joe Biden extended the federal eviction moratorium last month.

Millions of tenants and homeowners didn’t meet their rent or mortgage obligations in the last month of 2020, cutting into landlords' bottom lines and putting scores of people at risk of eviction or foreclosure.

Around 5 million people, more than 5% of renters and mortgage holders, skipped rent or home loan repayments during December, Bloomberg reports, citing a survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America. In addition, 2.3 million renters and 1.2 million homeowners now fear eviction or foreclosure or will need to relocate in the next month, per the survey.

Missing rent has hit residential landlords hard. The survey showed those kinds of property owners lost $7.2B in fourth-quarter revenue. That number was down from Q3, and the survey found fewer people were worrying about their housing security than earlier in the pandemic.

“This confidence is perhaps an indication that direct checks and enhanced unemployment benefits, rental assistance, mortgage forbearance programs, and a federal eviction moratorium have so far been effective in keeping people in their homes,” Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs economics professor Gary Engelhardt told Bloomberg.

President Joe Biden extended the multifamily eviction moratorium as one of his first acts after taking office last month. His $1.9 trillion aid package includes enhanced unemployment benefits, direct rental assistance and $1,400 checks, though Democrats haven’t settled on the criteria for receiving the funds, and the negotiations on that threshold are still ongoing, per The Washington Post.

In New York state, an eviction moratorium is in place until May, but there are looming concerns about tenants accumulating debt by not paying. New York Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris has asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to establish a $2.2B fund he says would provide support for tenants and landlords.

Under the program, eligible landlords would be able to access funds if they agree to forgive tenants' rent. Increasingly, small landlords in the city, where the vacancy rate hit an all-time high of 5% last year, say they are facing dire consequences if they can't close the rent gap to meet their building costs and tax requirements.