What suspending rent and mortgage payments means for tenants, property managers

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — For many during the coronavirus pandemic, mortgage or rent that is due suddenly becomes an added financial obstacle. 

“This kind of question is rampant with everybody,” says attorney Robert Brenna.

Brenna says foreclosures and evictions won’t be happening. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says folks laid off or facing a financial pinch will have 90 days to make their mortgage payment.

“Meaning if you are not working, working only part-time, we’re going to have the banks and financial institutions waive mortgage payments for 90 days; that will be a real like economic benefit, it will also be a stress reliever for many families,” said Gov. Cuomo earlier this month.

Brenna says this could be a relief to people even though they’d have to pay it back later.

“[You would] ultimately owe it, but for the right people it’s a God send,” says Brenna.

For renters, a bill in the State Senate, S8125A, is proposing to suspend rent collections for 90 days for those impacted by the Covid-19 shutdown. Brenna says Cuomo seems uncertain about it, and adds from the language on the bill, it looks like tenants would not have to pay the money back. 

“None of us asked for this,” says activist Billy Booker alongside his companion Pamela Owens. Both are advocates of the movement to “cancel the rent”, while the pandemic rages on, but they say other financial dues are still piling up to pay, and the stimulus check and rent cancellations might not be enough.  

“There’s always another bill on the way,” says Owens.

“We shouldn’t be held accountable for the present predicament that coronavirus has placed us in,” adds Booker.

If passed, the bill says it would: “Suspends all rent payments for certain residential tenants and small business commercial tenants if such tenant has lost employment or was forced to close their place of business and certain mortgage payments for landlords of such tenants in the state for ninety days following the effective date of this act in response to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019.”

Property owners like Matt Drouin say this bill could put a giant clog in the system. 

“What the tenant unions need to do, and what government officials need to do is they need to consult with us, the housing providers the ones actually making it happen,” says Drouin. 

Drouin says if the bill goes through and he can’t collect rent, he won’t be able to pay utility bills, vendors, taxes, or his employees.

“That is just not acceptable or sustainable,” he adds.

Drouin did say one solution for all of this is for the federal and state government to work directly with individuals to address their specific needs to get them the aide needed. No rent could mean putting property owners in a serious dilemma within the next 90 days. 

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