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  • Landlord organizations are telling lawmakers in Washington: we need help too.

  • They say fewer of their renters are paying rent and they too, the landlords, have bills to pay.

  • As the coronavirus crisis enters its third month in the U.S., more and more tenants are protesting paying their rent.

  • Cancel rent now!

  • May, we are not going to pay!

  • While many people pay rent to large corporations, around half of Americans who rent, rent from individual landlords.

  • There are about eight million owners in this category, most of whom have between one and ten properties.

  • Thank you for figuring out how to do your Skype.

  • Yeah, my son was helping me.

  • Oh, that's nice.

  • Fadela Hussein says her rental income is her only income.

  • Her homes are in Schenectady, New York, a riverside city of around 60,000 that's three hours north of Manhattan.

  • Her single-family homes run for, on average, 1,200 USD per month.

  • I started in 2010.

  • I used up my savings to invest in, you know, one property, buy it and fix it and rent it.

  • It, eventually, over the years, I accumulated a few more.

  • More than a few, you're up to 14 right now, right?

  • Right.

  • Hussein, who's 61 years old and a widow, says she has so many tenants not paying their rent right now that she can't pay all her mortgages.

  • They're just not paying.

  • She says these four homes are vacant and need repairs, which now she can't afford.

  • Hussein was in the process, she says, of trying to evict the tenants of two homes, when New York declared a 90-day moratorium on evictions.

  • They, and three other tenants, she says have yet to pay their April rent.

  • Did people lose their jobs, is that the issue?

  • Well, they haven't responded to my letter asking them for proof if they are affected or if they are unemployed because of the COVID-19.

  • And when I call, I'm not getting any response either.

  • Hussein said she would work with her tenants on payment options and perhaps even lower their rent if she could get ahold of them.

  • I knocked on the door, nobody would open the door.

  • According to records she shared with us, if all the houses she owned were rented and current on payments, she would have collected for the month of April 16,000 USD.

  • She only took in 6,300 USD, which she says doesn't cover her costs.

  • It's so hard and I am so confused.

  • I'm lost and stressed.

  • Hussein says she hasn't been able to reach her mortgage lenders and is trying to get a small business loan.

  • Minnesota's Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, introduced a bill that would cancel rents and mortgages during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • We want to make sure with this package that no one is going to be left behind and that our system in itself is not going to break down.

  • But how big is this package?

  • I read through the bill and I didn't see dollar estimates.

  • Without taking into full account, the scope of the problem, we can't really estimate the amount of money it's going to need.

  • The bill has a tough road ahead with no broad bipartisan support and critics decrying provisions favoring renters.

  • How concerned are they about their businesses right now?

  • They're petrified.

  • They wake up every morning very concerned about what the future holds frankly.

  • One of the most active advocates for landlords in New York is the Community Housing Improvement Program, which has over 4,000 owners and managers.

  • Jay Martin is the head of CHIP.

  • Martin says the government should bear more responsibility and suspend taxes for landlords like Hussein.

  • Governments are not willing to entertain the idea of suspending taxes because they're also in financial hardship right now.

  • Many of our municipalities across this country rely on these property taxes to be able to sustain their communities.

  • So we want to make sure that landlords have the resources that they need in order to still fulfill their obligations.

  • So what happens if your bill doesn't pass, and nothing gets done?

  • That will be a complete devastation.

  • We are looking at, like I said, a huge collapse of our housing market.

  • If this continues, what are you gonna do?

  • I'm just gonna have to stop making all the payments on these properties, even insurance.

  • If something happen, I don't know what's gonna happen.

  • I'm gonna have to stop because there's no money, there's no money.

  • If May and the summer months are as bad for her as April was, Hussein says she'll have to let some of her properties go, or...

  • I have to go find a job, that's it.

  • And decide if I wanna continue being a landlord or I just wanna get out of it.

  • I don't think I can keep handle... I can't handle it anymore.

  • I can't.

Landlord organizations are telling lawmakers in Washington: we need help too.

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What Happens to Landlords When Tenants Can't Pay Rent? | WSJ

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    Mackenzie posted on 2020/06/08
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