While the recently extended eviction moratorium is seen as a lifeline for struggling renters, landlords in Wisconsin are facing their own financial challenges amid the pandemic. 

That’s according to Chris Mokler, a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Apartment Association. Because many renters are protected from eviction under the moratorium, he noted many landlords aren’t getting enough income to cover their own bills and taxes on the properties they own. He explained the four main expenses for landlords are taxes, utility bills, mortgage payments and repairs. 

“When landlords don’t get paid, they can’t buy groceries. They can’t pay taxes,” Mokler said. “This rent goes to cover a lot of things.” 

In a recent interview, he pointed to a study from the National Apartment Association showing landlords only pocket around 9 cents of every dollar they receive in rent, after taxes and other expenses. And that was before the pandemic hit. 

“Obviously, landlords are not really happy with the moratorium,” he told WisBusiness.com. 

The latest extension, which expires Oct. 3, applies only to counties with substantial or high levels of transmission of COVID-19. In Wisconsin, that covers well over half of the state’s 72 counties. 

“When landlords don’t get paid, that leads to increased costs, increased rent down the line. That’s going to hurt tenants,” Mokler said. “The point is, the rent isn’t getting paid. Some tenants are in trouble, and there are funds available for them. But landlords can’t keep providing a place for free without expecting to lose their property.” 

As both renters and landlords have been dealing with the impact of the pandemic, he said some have been able to reach temporary agreements that work for both parties, such as landlords only accepting partial rent payments from some tenants. He added that “many landlords across Wisconsin are doing what they can to get to know tenants and do what they can to help.” 

But at the same time, he noted these relationships aren’t always so amicable. In one recent example, he said an owner of an 8-unit apartment building in Wisconsin took a tenant to court but was unsuccessful in evicting that renter. 

“As soon as other tenants heard that, all but one stopped paying rent,” he said. “It’s very hard for him to survive with one tenant out of eight paying rent. He’s taking a big hit — he can’t afford his mortgage, can’t afford upkeep for the building. It has a drastic impact on landlords.” 

Although more than $46 billion in federal funding has been approved for rental assistance, the vast majority of that money has yet to be delivered to renters and landlords with less than two months before the eviction moratorium is due to expire again. 

See the latest numbers on eviction filings and judgments in Wisconsin: https://doa.wi.gov/Pages/Wisconsin-Eviction-Data-Project.aspx

–By Alex Moe

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