- The Biden administration’s eviction moratorium, which covers most US counties, lasts until Oct. 3.
- Landlords like Julio Gonzalez, who owns 24 East Coast properties, are struggling to navigate costs.
- This is Julio Gonzalez’s story, as told to Jamie Killin.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Julio Gonzalez, an East Coast landlord, about the US eviction moratorium.
I’m Julio Gonzalez, the CEO and founder of specialty tax engineering firm Engineered Tax Services. I also own 24 properties on the East Coast and have been a landlord for 20 years.
The Biden administration’s latest eviction moratorium – which lasts through Oct. 3 and covers most US counties, including mine – has led to difficult conversations. Many of our tenants feel like they are in a dire situation.
Unfortunately, we as landlords are too.
Twenty of my properties are residential, and I currently have four tenants taking advantage of the federally mandated eviction moratorium. The moratoriums have led to a significant and negative impact in profitability – for me, it’s been a 15% loss in profit. Residents not paying rent essentially leads to free living, while landlords still have to pay for taxes, utilities, and more.
As a landlord, you can’t pay bills, it’s impacting credit, you’re losing property, and now you’re going to lose everything
It’s just tough. My parents came to America from Cuba, and I grew up with nothing. I’ve worked hard to be successful, so I know what it’s like to face challenges.
We’ve been fortunate to be in a position where we can sustain no income and we try to be very compassionate and understanding for our tenants. We’re trying to extend their leases so we can make enough over a period of time to make up for some of these losses, but most people don’t have that kind of staying power.
I see that with my clients every day. They’re no longer able to make their payments, they’re liquidating their properties, they’re selling them to private equity. It’s very tragic. And while we’ve been able to sustain our properties, we have stopped all improvements and renovations because we don’t have the capital.
We’ve been very cautious of all of our income, capital, and cash because we don’t know if the moratorium is going to continue, or if this pandemic is going to continue.
We’ve really tried to be tight with our budget to get through the eviction moratorium, but really, how many more months can we go?
There are ways the US government can alleviate this, or at least ease some of the frustrations that come with it
First, there needs to be a program in place to not only help those being evicted, but a program to help the landlords out as well. The government should give landlords a moratorium on bank loans, taxes, and utilities.
Most of the landlords I speak with and know are really struggling due to these moratoriums, financially hurting with no relief in sight. They were struggling before, but now this most recent moratorium may bankrupt them altogether. No one is raising a finger to help.
The moratorium ties the hands of hardworking landlords like me, and it totally disrupts the real-estate market. As some landlords are losing their properties, private-equity firms are winning out. They can take advantage of the situation, coming in and taking these properties from the bank for pennies on the dollar because they have low cost of capital, low debt, and staying power.
Second, proof of hardship could eliminate some of the questions landlords like me have about our tenants. We see that there’s an incredible amount of open jobs, and communities are opening up in spite of the COVID-19 delta variant. It’s likely that our tenants have received jobs and are now working.
Our tenants don’t have to provide any documentation to us, so they could be working and we see that they’re buying new goods, but they’re not paying rent. We’re not there yet, but if it becomes clear people are taking advantage of the moratorium, we would have to discuss possible legal action with our legal team.
One thing I would tell all small-business landlords and real-estate owners is: Have a good relationship with your bank
It’s really helpful to know your banker, because you can tell them you need your loan extended due to the moratorium.
The banks will be accommodating if you work with them. It’s when you don’t work with them, you don’t communicate with them, and when you’re not going at this proactively that there are problems. It’s the same with property taxes – you can always extend your property taxes and let the authorities know. Also, try to work with your insurance agents.
Then, there’s the Small Business Administration – you can use it to try to get some type of interim financing through government programs. Generally, there are local and community funds that states received to help small businesses, including landlords.
If you have an accountant, they may also be able to take the losses you’ve incurred and carry that back to previous tax years to get a refund.
I haven’t had to take these avenues, but I’ve helped my clients do so. Although working with government agencies can be difficult, these resources have worked almost every time for my clients. The biggest issue is getting people educated on these issues because they are not broadcasted to the public as much as we would hope.
The eviction moratorium is tricky for everyone. We’re in this together, so we’ve got to come together and get through this.