Hudson resident Mike Hoefling owns a couple of three-deckers as well as a mixed-use property in Worcester, and he’s getting ready to buy another building in the city.
“I still enjoy being a landlord,” Hoefling said, despite the challenges he and other rental property owners are facing during the coronavirus pandemic.
With unemployment surging, some tenants are struggling to pay their rent, and, in turn, some owners and landlords are facing their own hardships.
Several of Hoefling’s tenants lost their jobs and haven’t been able to pay their rent for the last two months.
“Tenants can’t pay and then the banks are asking us to pay,” Hoefling said. “A local bank reached out to me asking when I’m going to pay my mortgage. Basically, the landlords are getting squeezed from both sides. It’s not actually happening the way politicians are saying it’s going to happen as far as the mortgage deferments. Some banks are only allowing principle deferments and they’re still requiring interest payments, insurance payments and taxes, but that’s all part of the ‘mortgage.’”
According to MassLandlords, 22 percent of residential landlords surveyed in late April said they didn’t think they would be able to pay all of their bills, including taxes, insurance, repairs and mortgage payments, through the end of the year.
“Seventy-eight percent of members said ‘yes,’ which sounds good,” MassLandlords executive director Douglas Quattrochi said, “but the 22 percent who said ‘no’ are in serious trouble.”
A follow-up survey, Quattrochi said, revealed that about 19 percent of rents went unpaid in March, April and May.
“It’s very uneven,” Quattrochi said. “Some landlords have 100 percent of rent paid and have consistently and they’re not concerned. The number of people who are experiencing large defaults is growing, and there are some landlords who have received no rent on a very large number of units. Some operate rooming houses, for instance, and a lot of people who rent by the room are really badly impacted by the pandemic from a health and economic point of view.”
The state’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium started April 20 and is set to expire Aug. 18, or 45 days after Gov. Charlie Baker lifts the COVID-19 state of emergency, whichever is earlier.
The moratorium prohibits almost all residential evictions, with the exception of those involving criminal activity or lease violations that could negatively impact the health and safety of other residents. Tenants are not relieved from paying their rent, but landlords may not terminate tenancy, send a notice to quit, or impose late fees.
“We did not oppose the moratorium at the beginning,” Quattrochi said, “because we understand during a public health crisis with a stay-at-home order people have to have a home to stay in. That is logical, but we’ve been…