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PDF Editor FAQ

Will there be people who take advantage of this crisis by not paying rent even if they have the money?

Of course, there is always going to be someone who is willing to take advantage of any crisis. A couple of my tenants already tried, until they were informed that anyone who wasn’t unable to pay as a direct result of the pandemic or stay-at-home order would be evicted and sued as soon as the courts open again.I don’t have any mortgages on my properties, so I am not receiving any credit or forbearance that I could pass on to my tenants. Since I have no interest in running up debts, I will need to continue to pay all the bills I have related to my ownership of those properties. All of my units are at the high end of the market, and due to my income and credit requirements none of my tenants are living paycheck to paycheck. They’ve all signed affidavits promising that they have enough savings for three months rent, as a condition of renting from me, so theoretically I should have gotten 100 percent of the rent I was owed this month.However, I have been in this business long enough to know that some people will jump at any chance to take advantage, so I sent letters out explaining that although the state wasn’t allowing any evictions to be carried out currently, they still had an absolute obligation to pay rent. Failing to pay in full and on time without prior agreement would result in an immediate notice to vacate as soon as the moratorium was lifted, and back rent would be due without delay. Fortunately my state hasn’t completely screwed over landlords like some other states have, so I still have enough leverage to collect rent from anyone who can pay. That’s good, because allowing late payments and offering payment plans for those who genuinely cannot pay will only be possible if everyone else pays.Out of roughly forty sets of tenants, fifteen called my office to say they couldn’t pay. Five of those changed their minds when they realized that the moratorium is temporary and that the rent will still need to get paid at some point, and another three never brought in proof that they’d lost income due to the pandemic. Thirty one sets of tenants paid their rent on April 1st, probably because they received a 5 percent discount for doing so. Seven met the requirements for deferred payment and a payment plan once the stay-at-home order is lifted, and four didn’t pay. Two of those four paid after receiving another letter laying out the legal situation and explaining that they were ineligible for any additional consideration from me (in other words, they’d be evicted once this is all over), and the other two did not. We cannot currently threaten eviction, but nothing prevents us from sending out letters explaining what will happen to tenants once this is over.If those two couples are going to be the only ones trying to use this situation to take advantage of me, I’ll be glad. It could be much worse, especially since they happen to have leases that expire fairly soon. I was going to offer renewals, but that ship has sailed. I imagine that all landlords will be exceedingly careful in the future, so I really wouldn’t want to be one of the tenants who use this crisis as an excuse not to pay rent. Not only will they be evicted once the moratorium ends, but no landlord is going to rent to someone now without a reference stating that they behaved appropriately in this situation.

Why do some landlords feel that their tenants unfairly took advantage of the COVID-19 moratorium on evictions when it was meant to be used for financial relief?

Because some people are taking advantage of these programs when they didn’t need to. Not everyone, some people are. I live in a new home I bought a few months ago and I was talking to a neighbor.He was trying to convince me to take advantage of the forbearance programs that was available. He said his property is on forbearance because his wife had her hours cut and he has the money to pay but wanted to invest in the stock market while it’s low. He had some personal reasons for activating his. One was to get back at the white man for what was done to his family in the past and that Mortage companies are shady and they’re getting paid anyways.The banks are advertising and giving these forbearance programs to everyone without investigating first. They ask the real money questions after it’s active. I’ll tell about that later.At first he had me excited about the forbearance program and I was tempted to activate mine. It didn’t feel like the right thing to do. Would you go to a food bank and take food when you didn’t need to? I talked to a few good friends about this and they said the same thing. After a few days, my neighbor asked if I activated it and I said I didn’t. He still tried to convince me to use it.A few months later I got Furloughed for 1 day while working on the railroad. At the time I was burning out from working a lot at all times of the day. I live near Baltimore and was working in Philadelphia, 70 miles away. I had already gotten furloughed in Baltimore but had better seniority in Philadelphia. I work on call 24/7 for the railroad. Vary stressful life style. I was receiving more work because my peers were dodging work assignments so I was excited to get furloughed and catch a break but scared at the same time. During the Covid 19 situation, when someone gets layed off, it was for a while. When it was my turn in July, I was convinced it was going to be a while so I quickly activated the forbearance program and unemployment that night. Then vary next morning, the company added positions. I was surprised. That week, they called everyone back to work including people in Baltimore.I left the forbearance program active because I didn’t know if I would get furloughed again. Sometimes you work for a week and get furloughed again. I’ve been furloughed for a year and a half before. About the same time my paycheck showed up, the mortgage company sent me a letter. This letter asked about everything that was going on in your financial situation. I mean everything! So now I’m looking at my paycheck and found that I didn’t loose any income from missing that one day. I called the mortgage company and canceled the forbearance but made sure I could reactivate it if I needed it in the future. Railroad life is vary unpredictable.There are people out there taking advantage of these programs that really don’t need to use these programs. If there’s a loophole, someone’s going to take advantage and this time, the government made it too easy. They took any excuse to allow forbearance. I live 20 miles near Baltimore and had to work in Philadelphia, 70 miles away to stay employed. If I told the mortgage company that, they’d allow it but I managed my money well and continued to pay my bills. At the time I was willing to travel far to Selkirk New York for the work. People are taking advantage of these programs and I highly believe they’ll never get cought for doing it. Renters have to pay that money back but homeowners may have a choice of paying back, or putting it on the end of the loan. Sometimes it might be the choice of the mortgage company. Got to be careful with that!

My tenants have not paid rent since March. Eviction moratorium here in Mass. until Oct 18th. They have changed the locks on their apt without notifying me, and are refusing entrance to show their apt. to potential buyers. What can I do?

The first thing to do is change the locks. Off the top of my head I don’t know what the process is. My guess would be a proper notice of entry period under the terms of the lease (or state law if your lease is lacking that). When you go, have a copy of the lease and your deed (in case they call the cops) and bring a locksmith. You may want to also provide a letter from an attorney telling them that they can’t change the locks. [It may be worthwhile to let the local precinct- and the locksmith- know what is going on.]Regarding the missed rent- make sure you and your tenants are following the requirements under the Eviction Moratorium. It’s important to remind your tenant that the rent is still due. Unless they have provided the correct notice and documentation, you are allowed to charge late fees. You may also want to see if you or your tenant personally qualify for any assistance being provided by the state (or city)- see if you can’t get them to start paying again. Or if you can’t get your mortgage put into forbearance- you’ll still have interest and will have to make the payments eventually but for right now you’ll only have taxes and such for the property. And you have at least 2 more months before the moratorium is over.Massachusetts Eviction Moratorium: Full Explanation and FAQ - (This has decent explanation for landlords about what you can AND can’t do under the eviction moratorium.)NLIHC COVID-19 Rental Assistance Database (This document lists rental assistance available nationwide)But I’m going to end with what I think is the pretty obvious question- you can’t currently evict this tenants, they aren’t paying rent, why are you trying to show the apartment?

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