Many renters and landlords are apprehensive about the current rental housing market and landlord-tenant relations that are more broadly impacted by COVID-19. There is asymmetrical government action in the rental market benefitting tenants but largely leaving landlords without relief. As a result, there is great concern by landlords who, because rents aren’t being paid, are without recourse to pay their mortgages or receive some kind of benefit that delays or eliminates mortgage obligations in this period.
Some government action has been taken limiting evictions, and as to federal mortgages, foreclosures, in an effort to protect housing for Minnesota residents in light of present recommendations to stay at home. However, there has not been a corresponding order which forgives rents, delays foreclosures of privately held mortgages, nor was there any action to make continued housing contingent on continued payment of rents, any action which forgives mortgage amounts due by landlords to their lenders during this period where renters may not be paying rents, or some kind of compulsory action to modify mortgages to stay all current mortgage payments and reformat mortgages so that any mortgage payments coming due during the emergency period are pushed to the end of the mortgage term. As a result, many landlords are anxious for this emergency to end so they can continue their business. Conversely, many residential tenants worry that as soon as the emergency ends there will be a flood of eviction actions to oust those tenants, particularly those who have failed to pay rents.
On March 13, 2020 Gov. Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-01 declaring a peacetime emergency in Minnesota associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 23, Gov. Walz issued Executive Order 20-14 suspending evictions and Writs of Recovery (a court order directing a sheriff to remove a person following an eviction) during the term of the peacetime emergency. As a result, so long as the emergency continues there cannot be eviction actions.
So what are landlords to do? One step taken by some landlords is going to their mortgagees and asking to modify their mortgages. However, this would be a voluntary action on both sides. Negotiations with tenants, banks, lien holders, contractors, and others are often the best option here as there is uncertainty on all sides. Making new agreements is a way to bring some certainty to the situation while each side makes some concessions from the other based on current and future needs. If you need help with this, please give us a call 952-445-2817.