Report: Eviction Moratorium Hurts Minority Landlords Disproportionately

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 31: Housing activists gather to protest alleged tenant harassment by a landlord and call for the cancellation of rent in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, on July 31, 2020 in New York City. Since the onset of the Coronavirus crisis, millions of Americans have …
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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against President Joe Biden’s moratorium on evictions on Thursday, and those who may be the most pleased with the ruling are minority landlords, according to an Urban Institute report.

The report, conducted during the coronavirus pandemic, resurfaced on social media in the wake of the High Court’s decision that held that it is “‘virtually certain’ that the landlords who claimed the centers for Disease Control exceeded its legal authority would win” in legal proceedings.

The Urban Institute report used a survey from Avail, a real estate resource for landlords, “to understand how landlords are managing this crisis and to identify racial and ethnic differences.”

“We worked with Avail to develop questions for its August survey to understand how landlords are managing this crisis and to identify racial and ethnic differences,” the Institute report said.

The report said, in part:

We found that Black and Hispanic landlords are struggling to pay their mortgages more than white landlords and are more apt to take mortgage forbearance. Despite the struggles, Black and Hispanic landlords are more likely to offer their tenants a rent payment plan, suggesting these landlords are dedicated to keeping their tenants.

More than one-third of the landlords surveyed earn the majority of their income from their rental properties, but Black and Hispanic landlords have lower incomes, own fewer properties, and are more likely to have a mortgage than own their building outright. As a result, Black and Hispanic landlords are more likely to struggle to make their mortgage payments.

There is a 10 percentage-point gap between the shares of white and Black landlords with incomes below $75,000 and a slightly smaller gap between white and Hispanic landlords. Nearly half of Hispanic landlords own only one property and 40 percent of Black landlords own only one property (versus 32 percent of white landlords). White landlords have five or more properties more often as well. Owning fewer properties makes it harder to diversify risk and increases the financial volatility of rental income when a crisis hits.

The Avail survey found the black and Hispanic landlords are more likely to own two-to-four-unit properties, which often house less affluent tenants and tenants with jobs at higher risk of layoffs because of the pandemic.

“The extension of eviction moratoriums will help tenants stay in their homes longer,” the Urban Institute report concluded, “but for many landlords who are struggling to make their mortgage payments and are disproportionately people of color, there needs to be additional policies to alleviate their financial burdens.”

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