Helping renters, landlords keep bills paid during Coronavirus shutdown

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Tens of thousands of Ohioans lost their jobs this week and many of them are now wondering how they will pay their rent for April or May. 

Kat Jarvis was a restaurant server until about 9 o’clock Sunday night, just hours after Governor Mike DeWine ordered the closure of all bars and sit-down restaurants. 

“It’s a little terrifying just not knowing,” Jarvis said. “I’m out of a job and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to pay rent.” 

Winfield Slocum also works in the food service industry and anticipates he may lose his job. Slocum and his fiancé, Maddie Wilming, say they were disappointed by the tone of an email they received from their landlord. 

“The emails that were sent were just a little insensitive, really no compassion,” Slocum said. 

The message included the following:  “We understand that some of our tenants have lost hours at work due to working on campus. However, rent is still expected by the 1st of every month and late fees will still apply. Please do not call the office or email us about this since everyone is still expected to pay rent in a timely fashion.” 

“I think it would have been a little more compassionate to be open to hearing what people are dealing with,” Wilming said. 

Some landlords and real estate management companies are more sympathetic. 

At RL Property Management, CEO Peter Lohmann says they are waiving all late fees for April. “I think it’s the least we can do right now,” Lohmann said. “We’re taking it on a case by case basis. As people reach out to us proactively and let us know, ‘Hey, I was laid off or I’m out of work temporarily.’ We’re just chatting with them, getting some details about their situation and then we’re talking to the property owners.” 

And Lohman said many of the property owners he represents are working through their own issues as well.

“Some of them have lost their jobs and they depend on the income from the rental either in retirement or as supplemental income,” Lohmann said. “The effect is going to be significant on the economy and we’re really just taking it day by day.” 

The problem of tenants being unable to pay their rent could eventually trickle down to already overcrowded homeless shelters.  

Marcus Roth at the Coalition of Homelessness and Housing in Ohio says there’s hope that Congress will approve some emergency rental assistance.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that the homeless system doesn’t get flooded by a bunch more people that are going to be showing up knocking at the shelter door after they get evicted,” Roth said. “We need to relieve pressure on the system by keeping people stably housed and the best way to do that is through rental assistance.” 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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