On Thursday, February 11, NAR participated in a housing provider coalition call with the White House to discuss the CDC eviction moratorium and rental assistance challenges. Other participants in the call included the National Multifamily Housing Coalition, the National Apartment Association, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Manufactured Housing Institute, and the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing.
During the call, coalition members discussed the challenges presented by COVID-19 for both tenants, who may be out of work or making reduced income as a result of the pandemic, and housing providers, on whom the burden falls to make mortgage payments on their property regardless of the rent they collect each month. The coalition had several specific points it made:
- The need to allow evictions for reasons other than non-payment of rent to continue to protect the health and safety of residents and workers;
- The need for access to the court system to have a neutral party, informed on the matters of law, as an arbiter of disputes and as a means of keeping communication open between property owners and residents;
- The importance of clear attestation (“self-certification”) requirements for tenants claiming protection under the moratorium, making clear their responsibilities to seek rental assistance and pay owed rent, and the penalty of perjury for providing false information; and
- The need for clarity regarding how long the eviction moratorium will last, taking into consideration the economic impact as well as the public health need and balancing that length with the available assistance.
The call also included a discussion of the economic impact and the impact specifically on rental housing that the moratorium is having, and concerns especially with the impact on subsidized housing, and delays to construction and new developments. The coalition members addressed the limitations of the current rental assistance provided through the Treasury to the states: difficulty tracking where it is going, how the states will provide access to it for both tenants and property, varying requirements for who is eligible and what it can be spent on (e.g., back-rent vs. current/future rent), and ensuring that the assistance is going to those who need it.
NAR continues to advocate in both the Administration and Congress for clear guidance regarding the rental relief program, and for flexibility to allow property owners and their tenants access to the funding to keep both rents and mortgages paid.