Pandemic

Help May Finally Be on the Way for Landlords in Need of Pandemic Relief

There are no firm numbers for how much rent has gone unpaid during the pandemic, but some estimate it’s as much as $5.5 billion in California alone.

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There’s been a lot of help for people who can’t pay rent during the pandemic. In fact, in LA unemployed tenants haven’t had to pay rent since last March.

And, while many support helping tenants, some landlords say they need help, too -- they can’t afford to house tenants for free. And now, help may finally be on the way.

Tammie Mason owns a home in south LA and says she rents it out below market value. 

“Keeping rents affordable and being able to retain a long-term tenant is important,” said Mason. 

But last March when the pandemic hit, Mason’s tenant stopped paying rent. And by law she couldn’t ask any questions.

“There’s no further language, no further explanation,” said Mason. 

There are no firm numbers for how much rent has gone unpaid during the pandemic, but some estimate it’s as much as $5.5 billion in California alone. And while unemployed individuals, small businesses and corporations have all received government help, small landlords have gotten nothing. 

“They’re requiring us to assist with the financial crisis and carry the financial burden by allowing individuals to live in your property for free,” said Mason. “And you’re giving them a loan with no interest, no penalties. And it’s most likely not going to be paid back.” 

But after 10 months, help is on the way for many landlords.

The federal government just forked over $2.6 billion to California, earmarked to help landlords. The goal is to pay those who qualify up to 80% of unpaid back rent.

“We’re certainly going to hold the state agency’s feet to the fire to make sure we get as much money in the hands of landlords as we can,” said Debra Carlton with the California Apartment Association.

But the money comes too late for some. Mason’s tenant hasn’t paid rent in 11 months. She can no longer afford the home, and has no choice but to sell it. 

“We’re making a very difficult choice right now,” said Mason.

Landlords, along with their tenants, need to apply for the money. Starting next week, you can find the forms you need here.

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