CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Landlords can no longer evict people for failing to pay rent if their tenant was impacted by the coronavirus. That comes as welcome news for people like Pamela Martin, who did not know about the moratorium on evictions until today.
“I just did a heavy sigh of relief as you were saying that to me. Just hearing those words. It does provide a lot of relief,” Martin said. “It gives me that sense of security of knowing that I have time to come up with a backup plan.”
Before the pandemic, she worked as a nail technician but was put out of work and has been struggling to keep up with rent payments. She has managed to pay each month with outside help, albeit a week or two late.
Martin is like millions of other people across the country, living paycheck to paycheck and worrying about how she is going to buy food, pay rent and simply survive. Like many of us, a housing backup plan is more theory than practice.
“I don’t have one. That’s shameful for me to say as a single mother,” Martin said. “We have no place to go. I don’t know. I really don’t have anywhere to go.”
There is another side to this story – the perspective of the landlord.
Management companies are affected by the economic downturn just like any other business. The eviction ban does not cancel overdue rent and it does not block all evictions. Tenants can still be evicted for legal, non-rent related reasons.
The Charleston Apartment Association responded to a request for an interview by sending a statement from the National Apartment Association.
“We understand NAA members are deeply concerned about the Administration’s actions, and the complexity of the language in the CDC’s order will amplify the strain of operating rental housing and sustaining your businesses during these difficult times,” said Robert Pinnegar, president and ceo of NAA.
National Association of Realtors President Vince Malta echoes those concerns. He argues the eviction moratorium could damage industry, and therefore the tenants.
“While NAR appreciates and is supportive of administration efforts to ensure struggling Americans can remain in their homes, this order as-written will bring chaos to our nation’s critical rental housing sector and put countless property owners out of business,” Malta said.
Both organizations say the focus should be on more funding for rental assistance programs instead of a ban on evictions. NAA says they plan to work with congress to make more funding available.
Some resources are already available to help pay rent or pay down back rent. You can find a few of those programs here.