Landlords worry about making ends meet after CDC halts evictions through the end of the year

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Posted at 6:32 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 20:03:26-04

Housing experts had predicted a flood of eviction cases headed to Texas courtrooms as original coronaviurus related protections expired and the pandemic dragged on.

Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has mandated a stop in evictions from now until the end of the year.

Why the CDC? Well, public health.

Think about it- if you don’t have a roof over your head, you’re likely to get out in the world to look for a new home or stay with one or more friends. That creates more opportunity for the virus to spread.

Keep a roof over people's heads and they’re less likely to get out, keeping the virus out too. But that has a big impact on some landlords.

Roy Nash will never forget leasing his first rental home.

"Somebody showed up and they had cash, and I like, "Well if they have cash they're bound to be well-off." I let 'em rent my property. Well, that was a huge mistake," said Nash, the CEO of Neighborworks Waco.

Turns out his renters, he says, included a suspected arsonist. One burned up garage. Nash now runs a real estate company and chooses his tenants very carefully.

He says smart landlords have largely avoided problems related to COVID-19.

"Out of our 90 renters that we have, we've only had two or three that have had issues with that," he explained.

Neighborworks helped them find assistance programs to keep them in good standing.

While the CDC's order stops evictions until the end of the year, those who wanted to take cases to court to force a settlement weren't likely to find much sympathy at the courthouse.

"If there's any possibility of negotiating, it needs to be done before the case comes to court," said the Honorable Walter H. "Pete" Peterson, District 1 Justice of the Peace for McLennan County.

Why settle? Because as Roy Nash will tell you, COVID-19 hit almost as many landlords as it did their tenants.

"Landlord doesn't mean they're wealthy by any means," he said.

Nash knows they often have mortgages and other bills that depend on rent.

He believes, those who choose tenants with steadier incomes and determination can and will weather the COVID-19 storm, while those out to make a quick buck will get what's coming to them.

"The naive landlord who thinks they can just get the rent check and everything's going to be okay... not the case," said Nash.

There are no easy answers here. Some say the solution lies with banks that hold the mortgages, but there are problems there too.