Tenants who don’t pay their water bill or power bill get it shut off, says one Orlando landlord. “But we are the one service they can get away with not paying for.”
WASHINGTON – Landlords might not be a profession many people often think about or have much compassion for, but for Chuck Burt, being a landlord is his profession and passion.
“I’m a landlord,” Burt said with a laugh outside one of his Orlando properties. Burt explains just like renters, many landlords have been impacted hard during this pandemic.
“If your residents can’t pay, that puts you in a problem and, unfortunately, we are the forgotten entity in this,” Burt said.
Nationwide, about 12 million Americans have struggled to pay rent amid the pandemic. Various eviction moratoriums have been in place since last March.
Burt says that has meant many small landlords haven’t been collecting rent.
“We’ve gotten no help, no relief from property taxes, no relief from insurance, no relief from our other obligations as far as maintenance – if the air conditioner still breaks, I have to take care of it,” Burt said.
But help is on the way through the new stimulus bill President Joe Biden is expected to sign this week. The new stimulus bill includes $20 billion in renters’ assistance in addition to the $25 billion passed in December, which is meant to help renters and landlords.
Burt says that will be helpful, but stresses how local governments hand out dollars varies by jurisdiction.
He believes the inability to evict is the most severe issue impacting small landlords presently. While Burt works with tenants who are struggling, he believes some could pay but are taking advantage of present laws.
“If they don’t pay their power bill, they get it shut off. If they don’t pay their water bill, they get it shut off,” Burt said.
The moratorium does require tenants to pay back rent, meaning millions could face eviction as soon as the moratorium ends.
“But we are the one service they can get away with not paying for,” Burt added, hoping the eviction moratoriums are allowed to expire.
While Burt knows all of this sounds a bit harsh, he believes that’s the reality thousands of small landlords are facing. He argues not every landlord is a millionaire.
“The average landlord only makes a couple hundred bucks per unit per month,” he said.
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