SEATTLE — Not being able to pay rent is a big stressor as thousands of Washingtonians remain unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s causing stress not only for tenants but also for small mom and pop landlords.
“My husband and I invested in three rental properties as a source of retirement income,” KING 5 viewer Jo wrote. “It's a modest income but has worked well for the past few years. We understand times are tough, but our tenants have become unemployed and unable to pay rent. It will force us into bankruptcy. I feel like landlords are targeted as bad guys. Please share the little retiree landlord story for us.”
As we enter the fourth month of the coronavirus pandemic, some groups believe rental assistance is the solution instead of extending eviction moratoriums.
The Rental Housing Association of Washington (RHAWA) serves mostly small, mom and pop landlords, many of them just like Jo who are retirees and trying to survive.
Gov. Jay Inslee extended the state’s eviction moratorium until August 1. However, the RHAWA's stance is that if rental assistance could be given, it would help landlords, tenants, and the entire community because it would keep properties on the market and not in foreclosure in an already tight housing market.
“The longer that we just sort of don't have rental payments and there's no income coming in on these properties, the more it threatens to take those properties off the market or have them turn in something that has a higher amount of rent,” said Kyle Woodring with RHAWA.
Woodring said it isn’t really about fairness and concern about who owns the property, but said it is about keeping the market viable. Woodring said there are negotiations with Washington to release the money the state is sitting on from the CARES Act. Those funds are already tied to coronavirus and waiting to be spent.
Woodring said that renters, landlords, and even business owners can and should reach out to lawmakers and explain why rental assistance would be the best option.
In the meantime, there is guidance from the Attorney General’s Office to come up with a payment plan between renters and landlords. Click here to learn more about protections for homeowners and renters during the pandemic.
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