PORTSMOUTH, VA. (WAVY) – The coronavirus pandemic has hit the workforce hard and thousands of Virgins are struggling to make rent and mortgage payments.
Tenants own nearly 40% of homes on Hampton Roads, according to US census data. However, we were also told that the available rents are scarce.
“We are also seeing a major shortage in the rental market for two reasons. Single-family landlords are leaving the market in droves and bringing their homes to market. They’re selling it at crazy, high prices right now, ”said Patti Robertson, founder of the Hampton Roads Landlord Association. “The people who buy them are people who will live in them, which means that the single family home is now being permanently removed from the rental portfolio so that it is no longer available to a tenant.”
As many people lost their jobs, heads of state and federal leaders introduced eviction moratoriums and stopped evictions for non-payment due to financial difficulties due to the pandemic.
State and federal funds also helped the Virgins stay housed.
“If they’re on the streets, they may be homeless in the long run and that creates all kinds of problems,” said Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Newport News).
Scott said this was the scenario that state and federal leaders wanted to avoid when the pandemic began over a year ago.
Data from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development shows that more than $ 138,779,000 was distributed in rental payments and mortgage relief payments. This grant has helped 28,375 households across Virginia.
“We definitely didn’t want to see anyone on the street during COVID,” said Esther Davilmar.
Davilmar is a landlord who has received a grant to help make mortgage payments when one of her tenants has been unable to make rent. However, Davilmar said the eviction moratorium had caused further headaches.
“In the beginning it was a late or partial payment until there was simply no payment,” said Davilmar. “She said to the property manager, ‘You can’t do anything. You can’t throw me out of the house. ‘”
Davilmar has not received any payment from this tenant since November.
“As landlords, our hands are tied by the government,” said Patti Robertson.
Robertson also owns a real estate management company. She said that many landlords face similar situations.
“The message that has gotten to the public is that you just don’t have to pay your rent,” said Robertson. “Landlords are bound unless they can get their tenants to participate and apply for the grant.”
Robertson told 10 On Your Side that uncertainty about a renter’s ability to pay rent and the booming real estate market are causing many property owners to sell their homes instead of renting them out.
“A large percentage of single-family homes are currently being removed from the rental market and gone forever,” she said.
Robertson said this is likely to have a long-term impact on Hampton Roads.
“I’m afraid we will have a shortage of rental properties for a long time, which will only hurt tenants by increasing prices,” she said.
Despite the setbacks from the moratorium, we are informed that the many tenants will apply for rent relief if necessary.
Scott told 10 On Your Side it was a lifesaver for families.
“All studies show that if you can get over the hill and stay in your house, the chances of being there a year later are high [is] much bigger than going out on the street and trying to get back in, ”he said.
Davilmar said she was confident the situation would change sooner rather than later.
“The pandemic was something that no one could expect. I hope we can get back to normal soon, ”said Davilmar.
If you are a renter or landlord affected by the pandemic, please find links to get help Here.
For more information on tenant and landlord resources, see Here.