We have blogged before about how landlords continue to have many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic (see, Landlords May be Stocking Up at the Same Food Pantries as their Tenants). For example, many landlords are not getting paid and they cannot evict tenants for nonpayment. In many cases, landlords cannot evict for other lease violations, including criminal activity.
Millions of tenants continue to suffer under the crushing weight of the pandemic, but landlords (and half of all rental units are owned by families, sole, or small businesses) are also hurting. Take the case of Vanie Mangal who lives in Queens, New York. Mangal is a physician assistant at a Connecticut hospital, who was traumatized at work having to tell family members that their loved ones were dying of Covid-19. “She watched as patients gasped their final breaths and feared that she herself would get sick,” noted a New York Times story. Now, she is in fear in her own home.
The Times wrote that
[Mangal’s] first-floor tenants have not paid rent in 15 months, bang on the ceiling below her bed at all hours for no apparent reason and yell, curse and spit at her, Ms. Mangal said. A tenant in the basement apartment also stopped paying rent, keyed Ms. Mangal’s car and dumped packages meant for her by the garbage. After Ms. Mangal got an order of protection and then a warrant for the tenant’s arrest, the woman and her daughter moved out.
All told, Ms. Mangal — who has captured many of her tenants’ actions on surveillance video — has not only lost sleep from the tensions inside her two-story home but also $36,600 in rental income. “It’s been really horrendous,” she said. “What am I supposed to do — live like this?”
. . .
In years past, Ms. Mangal, 31, could have taken her tenants to housing court and sought to evict them. But during the pandemic, the federal government and many states, including New York, imposed eviction moratoriums to protect renters who had lost their income. The moratoriums have been widely praised by housing advocates for preventing millions of people from becoming homeless.
This one story is part of a larger trend. While the eviction moratoria have been widely regarded,
…those broad protections have created tremendous financial — and emotional — strain for smaller landlords like Ms. Mangal, who often lack the deep pockets to survive without payments. And in New York City, there are a lot of those small landlords: An estimated 28 percent of the city’s roughly 2.3 million rental units are owned by landlords who have fewer than five properties, according to JustFix.nyc, a technology company that tracks property ownership.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More