COVID-19 relief bill could help S.C. landlords recoup millions in rent

Updated: Dec. 23, 2020 at 8:21 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A national study finds South Carolinians are short hundreds of millions of dollars on their rent.

The lack of rent checks is putting property owner’s mortgages at risk.

The National Council of State Housing Agencies estimates through Nov. 23, South Carolina’s rent shortfall was $132-218 million.

The council estimates in that time 99,000 to 182,000 renters were at risk of eviction.

The CDC eviction moratorium enacted in September prevented evictions due to the pandemic (i.e. a loss of a job resulting in an inability to pay the rent).

While rent was still owed, landlords could not remove their tenants as a result of missing rent. The moratorium did not provide a way for landlords to recoup the rent in the normal monthly timeframe.

Matt Foster is a managing partner at Carolina Moves, a property management company in Greenville. He is also a property owner.

He estimated six of his clients are failing to recoup rent as a result of the moratorium, resulting in a shortfall of an estimated $21,000.

“Some owners only have one property. So if you have a property, just one rental property, and you have a tenant that’s not paying for three months, it’s stressing you out because you still have to pay the mortgage payment,” he said.

“So you’re trying to figure out ways to juggle that extra responsibility not having the rental income to support it.”

He said the issue is compounded by the Christmas season, where the money that would be going to rent checks is spent on the holidays or end-of-year expenses.

The COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress would provide $25 billion in rental assistance to be distributed through state and local governments.

$344 million is expected to go to South Carolina.

SC Housing estimates 122,000 renters in South Carolina are at risk of eviction.

Chief Research Office Bryan Grady said it remains to be seen if the federal bill will be a full fix, but action is needed.

“If you’re talking about just a mom and pop landlord situation, you can certainly have some substantial financial distress, as well as property owners that are serving low-income households,” he said.

It’s unclear if or when President Trump will sign the bill into law.

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