T.S. Eliot once wrote that April is the cruelest month, in the relationship between landlords and tenants nationwide it’s a quote that may be on full display as rents come due on the first of the month for many. The order to essentially shelter in place has directly impacted the ability of many to earn the money to pay for the place in which they are sheltering.
In cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco and others there are growing calls on social media for a rent strike on behalf of tenants symbolized by the hanging of a white sheet on the outside of the place you rent. Here in Ohio state leaders recognize this is a fight where there are no winners in the battle between tenants who may not have the money to pay right now and the landlords who may not have the means to wait.
“If you own an apartment complex that say had 32 apartments and eight people couldn't pay well the person that owns that apartment complex will not be able to pay their mortgage and could be foreclosed upon,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “You see this is how this all fits together?”
In the recently passed federal stimulus there was $12 billion allocated for housing, some of that awarded to Ohio today in the form of HUD grants. The CARES Act also places a temporary hold on evictions and foreclosures for anyone either living in a federally subsidized apartment or owns a home with a federally backed, Fanny or Freddy loan.
Additionally Senator Rob Portman told News 5 they're working with private commercial lenders to do the same.
"This is a time where you would hope that everybody including landlords and banks and some of these intermediary mortgage companies would all realize that this is going to be a temporary situation, people need to be given some leniency so we can get through this and that's in everybody's interest,” Portman said.
One extra lifeline for those who are self-employed or own a small business in the form of Small Business Administration loans included in the stimulus.
"Actually it can be used to offset rent or mortgage payments and again that loan is forgiven so effectively John it becomes like a grant,” he said.
His hope is that the local courts hearing landlord tenant disputes will be actively involved in keeping people in their homes in the short term or in the long term we’ll have a bigger problem.
"It's in everybody's interest. We don't want to have a further economic dislocation by people not having a roof over their heads,” he said.