RPforPC Response to COVID-19

The world is shifting under our feet with the COVID-19 crisis. Some of the changes will be permanent. With a housing crisis already ongoing, this combined health and economic crisis will lead to more housing uncertainty.

Individual rental providers and individual tenants will have varying ability to weather the crisis, and will have varying needs. When rental providers and tenants are already in good relationship, it is easier to respond to these needs in partnership. We encourage rental providers to sign our pledge, and to participate in developing our list of suggested practices, which aim to improve these relationships.

We call for:

1) Rental provider responses

  • Be in good communication with your tenants.
  • If your tenants are in financial need, work with them, based on your ability, on: payment plans, lowering rent, providing rent credits, doing work trades, and/or transferring funds from security deposits to go toward rent. Understand that it could be a large future burden on tenants to go on a payment plan instead of rent being credited/forgiven. Don’t require proof that COVID-19 is the cause of their need.
  • Keep equity at the forefront. Proactively reach out to tenants, keeping in mind that those with the most need might have difficulty conveying their needs and negotiating. 
  • Do your best to obtain payment extensions from mortgages or other debts if your tenants are having difficulty paying rent, and share your resilience with tenants. 
  • Even if there is no government block of rent increases, do not increase rents during the crisis (except for high-income housing), and try to limit increases during the recovery period.
  • Know that rental providers will need to make sacrifices in the interest of public health and community resilience.

Tenant tips:

  • Be in good communication with your rental provider about your financial ability to pay rent. If you can continue without help from your rental provider, and instead can get government or other outside help, that could give the rental provider more ability to help tenants who might need more assistance.
  • Know that your rental provider also might be facing severe economic hardship and/or health issues. Many rental providers also rely on jobs which could be impacted, they might not be able to delay their mortgage or property tax payments, and they might not have a financial cushion.

2) Government responses
(This section is short and broad, since other community groups have developed more comprehensive proposals.)

  • Put at the forefront, in any legislation/actions, the needs of the most vulnerable / most impacted.
  • Short-term and long-term investment in public and non-profit housing, and in the overall safety net. Make all benefits, including emergency benefits, easy to apply for and receive.
  • Require mortgage companies to give simple extensions, so that missed payments during the crisis and during the recovery period will extend the length of the loan. Must be easy to qualify for and receive.
  • Require a pause on rent increases on working and middle class housing during the crisis.
  • Put a temporary stop to foreclosures.
  • Consider ways to support local rental providers through this crisis, such as through forbearance on property taxes, short-term funds for necessary repairs to keep working/middle class housing habitable even when renters aren’t able to pay rent, etc., so that non-local & corporate interests are less likely to opportunistically take more control over housing.