Amid jobless claims numbering in the hundreds of thousands every week, most Washington landlords are steadfastly insisting that rent is still due, in full, on the first of the month.
A landlord in Yelm told tenants this week in a letter that “nothing has changed and we will not be offering extensions” to postpone rent payments. In online forums for landlords, discussions abound about how to encourage tenants to pay rent in full on April 1 — or else — in cities and states with eviction moratoriums.
Other tenants may have more luck.
Residents of a building owned by the public corporation Capitol Hill Housing were notified in mid-March the landlord planned to go ahead with a June rent hike.
But as the outbreak grew more serious, the organization backtracked. The new policy is not to increase rents at any of Capitol Hill Housing’s 47 buildings for the remainder of the year. And the landlord has raised $250,000 to help tenants with rent relief, said spokesperson Yiling Wong.
In Portland and neighboring Vancouver, landlord Ekoliving is reducing rent by 25% in April for tenants who’ve lost income for reasons related to COVID-19, said CEO Mark Madden. The rent cut applies to about 130 of the company’s 650 units.
Madden said he’s sympathetic to tenants laid off under coronavirus shutdown orders. The 2008 market crash left him “well aware of what it’s like to be without income,” Madden said. “Lenders chasing me everywhere, midnight tours to talk tenants into staying.”
The company will forgo profit for the next month, but will still be able to cover operating costs, including mortgage and tax obligations, he said.
“I hope other (landlords) will jump in and do the same,” he said.
In the realm of commercial real estate, Amazon has emerged as a do-gooder landlord. The company has given commercial tenants of buildings it owns free rent for March and April.
Other large Seattle-area landlords have also held out the possibility of rent relief for some business tenants.
National property manager Greystar told commercial tenants it was prepared to modify their leases if tenants “provide us with all relevant recent and projected financial information for your business reflecting the extent to which it has been impacted by COVID-19,” according to an email reviewed by The Seattle Times.
And Friday, developer Vulcan Real Estate announced it would waive April rent for small businesses and nonprofits in its buildings.
“We hope this action will help these small businesses weather the next phase of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis,” Vulcan chief real estate officer Ada Healey said in a statement.
A Vulcan spokesperson declined to name small businesses and nonprofits which would receive rent relief, but said 40 tenants would benefit.
Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed a one-month statewide moratorium on residential evictions March 18; Oregon followed later that week with a similar 90-day moratorium.
Commercial tenants haven’t been as lucky: In Washington state, only Seattle and King County have put a halt to evictions of small businesses and nonprofits.
This article has been updated to more accurately characterize Capitol Hill Housing’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.