Key Takeaways from Our Eviction Moratorium Webinar with NAA’s Greg Brown

The ongoing and somewhat unpredictable changes in the national eviction moratorium during the past year has created a confusing – if not economically painful – experience for apartment operators and their residents.

Greg Brown, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, at the National Apartment Association, addressed the current situation, what might be coming soon, and also how we got here in the first place during the webinar “The Eviction Moratorium: Where Things Stand and How to Have an Impact,” presented by ResMan.

He helps us to understand some of the partisan, bi-partisan and legal implications, as well as the advocacy efforts that NAA has helped our industry take in response to a situation that, according to estimates by the Urban Institute, has 10.25 million renters falling behind on $57.3 billion in rent by January 2021. The average amount of past-due rent per person is $6,000.

CDC Evictions Order Invalidated

On Sept. 4, the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) issued a new order about five weeks after the CARES Act’s national eviction moratorium expired. The difference is that the CARES Act moratorium applied to federally backed properties only and the CDC order applies to all residents of rental properties who make less than $99,000 per year for individuals and $198,000 per couple.

On May 5, a federal judge invalidated that moratorium, ruling that the CDC exceeded its authority on Sept. 4 with its ban of resident evictions. The CDC argued that its rule was to safeguard the country against the pandemic.

Hours later, the same judge placed her decision on hold to allow time for the appeals process to take place, putting the industry, and the country, back where it was in March of 2020 when the temporary hold on evictions was included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

With each eviction moratorium decision, as many as five federal agencies have been involved in fine-tuning and clarifying of its positions. The current appeals could go as far as the U.S. Supreme Court, Brown says.

One important aspect is that every court ruling to this point only applied to their individual plaintiffs, and did not have nationwide implications, as some have inferred.

“As for the District court ruling from Alabama, that judge actually vacated the CDC order nationwide,” Brown says. “however, as it is stayed, we’re basically stuck right where it was when the CDC put it in.” Property management professionals are urged to speak to their legal counsel to get a greater understanding of the CDC eviction order and how they appropriately comply.

Mounting Counter-Opinion Could Have Clout

NAA was the first national association to file a lawsuit challenging the CDC’s order, others included National Association of Home Builders and National Association of Realtors. Once it was put into effect, NAA met with its contacts in the White House and they were receptive.

“Supportive rulings in the multifamily industry’s favor are building; however, a final resolution will take time,” Brown says.

To hear more about the possible outcomes and Brown’s thoughts on how long the moratorium will last, watch the on-demand webinar.

NAA Advocates, Educates about Eviction Costs

Brown says that since the CDC order is an Administrative action, Congress does not have direct impact on its extension. However, industry members can make a difference by speaking with their members of Congress and delivering real-life, on-the-ground stories about how these rulings have affected their businesses and their residents. The intent is for Congress to take those stories to the Administration and advocate for letting the CDC order expire on June 30.

NAA has an active grassroots campaign for industry professionals so that they can share their stories with Congress in a unified way.

“The templates include fill-in-the-blanks so that our members can provide details and other specifics about what’s happening to them, and those emails can be targeted directly to their members of Congress,” he says.

In addition to the grassroots campaigns to encourage member outreach, NAA has created a Key Contact Program, where it has reach out to ask members if they have any personal relationships with members of Congress, so they potentially could help to open doors to direct lines of communication to the Senate and House of Representatives.

Learn how you can join your local NAA affiliate to have the greatest impact.

ERAP Brings $50 Billion in Aid to Renters

The federal government also has created an Emergency Renter Assistance Program, which includes $50 billion in support funds that have been distributed to the states. ResMan wrote about this program in its blog, and this entry includes links to each state’s application.

Each state’s administration of the program differs, and states are having various degrees of success with this rollout. Brown says that Virginia and Colorado are states with strong rollouts so far. Texas has improved dramatically, and Pennsylvania has done reasonably well. The jury is out on other state programs.

Watch the on-demand Eviction Moratorium webinar to learn more.

Emergency Rental Assistance Program FAQs for Property Owners

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many questions surrounding the Emergency Rental Assistance program, the eviction moratorium, relief packages and other aid. Multiple industry associations and government entities have put out resources for both landlords and renters to better understand different types of aid, who qualifies and how to receive funds.  

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions surrounding the Emergency Rental Assistance program. To see a list of resources, click here.

Jump to a question:

What is the Emergency Rental Assistance Program?
Who is eligible to receive Emergency Rental Assistance?
How should a grantee document the eligibility of a household?
How much aid can grantees expect to receive?
How can renters apply? Can a property apply on behalf of its renters?
Will the aid be paid directly to property managers or renters?
How has the Treasury Department allocated funds for localities?
A distributing entity provided rental payment on a resident’s behalf under the ERA program. Should I include this in my gross income?
Where can I get information on the eviction moratorium and tips on how to communicate with residents?
Where can I learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program?

What is the Emergency Rental Assistance Program? 

The U.S. Department of the Treasury allocated $25 billion to the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program to aid households unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2021, Congress allocated another $27.4 billion to the ERA program. 

Who is eligible to receive Emergency Rental Assistance? 

To qualify for emergency rental assistance, one must be considered an “eligible rental household” and meet the following criteria: 

– one or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income or experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak, whether directly or indirectly

– one or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing housing instability or homelessness 

– the household has a household income less than or equal to 80% of area median income 

How should a grantee document the eligibility of a household? 

Applicants must prove in writing that they have experiences financial hardship and meet the above criteria. Due to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the Department of the Treasury is allowing some flexibility in documentation, including permitting photocopies or digital photographs of documents and/or attestations from landlords, employers, caseworkers or others with knowledge of the household’s circumstances. 

How much aid can grantees expect to receive? 

Grantees can receive up to 12 months of back rent and utility bills. Assistance is awarded in three-month increments, at which point an eligible household must reapply for funds.  

How can renters apply? Can a property apply on behalf of its renters? 

According to federal law, if your resident does not apply for the ERA program directly and is behind on their rent, housing providers may apply on their behalf and receive funds directly.   

To do this, you must have the resident’s signed permission and provide all necessary documentation for said resident. That said, this particular issue may be determined based on jurisdiction. Refer to your state’s ERA program website to ensure they will distribute federal funds to you on behalf of the resident.  

It should be noted that properties do not have to participate in the ERA program. Residents can apply on their own, receive funds, and pay them directly to the property. 

Funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance program are paid directly to property managers or utility companies. 

According to the National Multifamily Housing Association (NMHC), some jurisdictions are requiring property owners to forgive or erase partial back-owed rent and forgo their ability to evict non-paying residents when receiving ERA funds. If this causes your company to not participate in the program, the NMHC says that the “resident can apply on their own and will be directed to deliver any relief they receive to their housing provider. Enforcement of this requirement is undetermined at this point.” 

How has the Treasury Department allocated funds for localities?  

See this list from the Treasury Department. 

A distributing entity provided rental payment on a resident’s behalf under the ERA program. Should I include this in my gross income? 

Yes. Under Section 501 Emergency Rental Assistance of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, whether you receive payment from your resident or a distributing entity on their behalf, you must include these funds into your gross income. 

Where can I get information on the eviction moratorium and tips on how to communicate with residents? 

Check out this blog post. 

Where can I learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program? 

U.S. Department of the Treasury FAQ 
NMHC Emergency Rental Assistance FAQ 
National Apartment Association Resources 
National Council of State Housing
Agencies State-by-State Assistance Resource 
IRS Emergency Rental Assistance FAQ 

**As information on rental relief can change rapidly, please refer to your state or local apartment association or legal counsel for more details.** 

2021 NAA Advocate Recap

On March 8, 2021, the National Apartment Association (NAA) hosted their annual NAA Advocate conference, which gives members a chance to raise key issues in the rental housing industry with legislators. While in past years, NAA Advocate has been hosted in person in Washington D.C., this year’s event was virtual. That said, in no way was it any less impactful.  

Through March 13th, many NAA affiliates will meet with their members of Congress in Virtual Hill Visits to address concerns. This gives a chance for members to share their story at the national level and advocate for themselves, their team, their peers and the industry at large. 

The conference features keynote speakers, Q and A sessions, educational discussions on emerging policy issues and a briefing on what to address in Virtual Hill Visits. 

Here are the key issues the NAA is advocating for and why they should matter to professionals in the property management industry. 

The Housing Crisis Caused by COVID-19 

National rental debt grew to tens of billions of dollars in 2020 due to the pandemic. This has had crippling effects on the property management industry, and if eviction moratoriums continue, it could result in an even more damaging housing crisis. 

To avoid further financial instability and negative impacts to housing supply, NAA members will be communicating to lawmakers the need to provide increased rental assistance and an end the federal eviction moratorium.  

Eviction Moratoriums 

NAA members are asking lawmakers to sunset federal eviction moratoriums to halt the destabilization of the rental housing market. The moratoriums have restricted property owners’ ability to pay mortgages, salaries, property taxes, maintenance and utilities, ultimately putting many properties into jeopardy. This also will negatively impact renters. Once the moratoriums are lifted, many will be unable to afford to pay their debts, causing them to lose their homes. Members of the NAA will be asking for a clear end date to the moratoriums and for Congress instead to offer increased rental assistance. 

Rental Assistance 

The $25 billion in emergency rental assistance that Congress has provided thus far, as well as stimulus checks and unemployment funds, has prevented mass amounts of evictions and provided stability to residents who have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.  

That said, to close the rental debt gap and prevent additional arrears, NAA members will be asking for additional assistance dollars. Members will also be requesting that these payments are given directly to landlords to streamline payments and ensure they can continue to operate their properties. Some state-level NAA affiliates have advocated for this with positive results, and this will quickly address the stress of both landlords and renters.  

Not a member of NAA yet? Learn why you should join your local NAA Affiliate to make and impact!

Housing Affordability 

In addition to the effects of COVID-19, the industry has an overarching issues surrounding housing affordability.  

Section 8 Voucher Reform 

The NAA has long supported the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. While it is one of the most successful rental subsidy programs, members are asking for reforms to eliminate regulatory burdens and increase provider participation. Studies have shown that almost three-quarters of rental property owners that once accepted voucher holders now refuse them. This is resulting in a massive affordable housing issue. NAA members are supporting improvements to the HCV program, including: 

– awarding incentive payments to housing providers that are new participants or operate in high-volume areas 
– a mitigation fund so owners can better manage repairs and damages 
– establishing inspection reciprocity to allow owners and operators already subject to other inspection protocols satisfy HCV requirements 

Senator Chris Coons is currently drafting reform legislation that will steady Section 8 funding and encourage participation by private housing providers. A companion House bill is expected, and NAA members are asking lawmakers to cosponsor legislation once introduced. 

The Yes in My Backyard Act 

On a local level, development barriers are increasing the cost of housing across the board. Reducing regulatory and administrative barriers present in individual jurisdictions is one of the most impactful strategies to address housing affordability in the U.S. In cities across the nation, the “Not in My Backyard” mindset is causing a limited supply and increasing demand in rental housing, which lawmakers need to address. 

The Yes in My Backyard Act is designed to eliminate regulatory barriers and encourage jurisdictions to reduce exclusionary land-use policies. This act will promote thoughtful development strategies and regular reporting to encourage further housing development. This bill was passed in the last session of Congress on a bipartisan level in the House, and NAA members will be advocating that it passes when it is reintroduced in the Senate. 

For more information on the NAA’s advocacy, visit their website. 

Why Property Managers Should Get Involved in Their Local Apartment Association

You may have heard the old proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This absolutely extends to the rental housing industry. Building connections with fellow property managers through the incredible network of apartment associations across the country is the best way to learn, grow and affect positive change in the industry. 

We could fill a book with all the associations available to you and reasons you should join them, but two of the largest organizations we highly encourage you to join are the National Apartment Association and the National Multifamily Housing Council. These two organizations do an incredible job supporting property owners and operators.  Getting involved with them is the best way for your organization to learn from peers, get out in front of challenges and influence policy that will ultimately impact your assets in one way or another. 

The National Apartment Association (NAA) 

Getting involved in the National Apartment Association (NAA) through your local affiliate chapter is the best way to network with peers, get support and training, and most of all, advocate for property managers. 

As a leader in the rental housing industry, the National Apartment Association (NAA) is an outstanding resource for advocacy, education and mitigating risk. Many cities and states across the country have affiliate chapters, offering a chance to connect with local industry professionals and stay informed of regulation changes and trends in the industry. 

NAA has a variety of educational programs on their website, and local affiliates provide webinars, meetings and other resources for things affecting your state or region. 

While they offer a variety of resources for property management professionals, one of the most impactful events they host is NAA Advocate. This annual event gives NAA members a chance to share key concerns in the rental housing industry with our elected officials. 

Letting your voice be heard on a national level is hugely important—particularly in a year when so many things have changed. During NAA Advocate, property managers and industry leaders meet to discuss a variety of topics and strategize how to communicate them to representatives. Having the NAA’s support and being surrounded by your peers as you work to affect change is unlike anything else, and property managers owe it to themselves to get involved. 

“Association involvement is so important for property management companies and suppliers. It gives us all education, networking and advocacy opportunities – to share best practices, and work together as an industry, rather than a bunch of individual companies. It has allowed me to meet, and network with some of our industries top executives.” 

– Angi Pusateri-Downey, VP of Business Development at Resman 

The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC)

The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) brings together leaders in the multifamily apartment industry. It provides both educational and advocacy opportunities that allow members to collaborate, network and work towards a better future for the industry and the communities they support.  

The NMHC is an incredible resource to review research and insights on apartment industry issues. This includes industry benchmarks, market trends and economic data. The NMHC also provides a weekly Rent Payment Tracker powered by ResMan and other property management solutions. As a leader in this initiative, ResMan has provided critical data to the NMHC regarding the industry’s financial health and the state of the apartment industry. Not only does the Rent Payment Tracker provide insight for industry professionals, but it has provided authoritative, consistent numbers to help guide policy discussions during the pandemic.   

Having this level of insight on a national level enables members to gain context around what’s happening in the industry and gauge their success alongside their peers and competitors. With a mass amount of up-to-date information at your fingertips, you can stay informed and be a better advocate for your industry. 

The NMHC hosts a variety of meetings, webinars and press conferences centered around industry changes, trends, advocacy on the national level and more. They also provide networking opportunities with fellow members, emerging leaders and strategic partners and suppliers. There are a variety of committees within the NMHC that you can get involved with to provide expertise, learn from others and affect change in the industry. 

Throughout the pandemic, the NMHC has put in a tremendous amount of effort in advocating for the industry. With the help of the data they collect, they can accurately measure the market sector and analyze which challenges their government affairs team should prioritize when working with legislators. 

By leveraging data from the NMHC Rent Payment Tracker, the council has been instrumental in securing $25 billion in rental assistance for back-owed rent. Their work isn’t over yet, though. With tools like the Rent Payment Tracker, the NMHC continues to be an effective policy partner, helping policy makers, financial regulators and the media understand our industry performance, current challenges and needs. The government affairs team has continued to advocate for your organization’s interest, which includes an additional $19 billion if the new stimulus bill passes in the Senate. 

As an industry, we’re stronger together. Getting involved in apartment associations like the NMHC and NAA doesn’t just benefit you—your expertise as a property manager is equally beneficial for these associations. Joining these associations allows you to provide feedback, opinions and personal experience as well as advocate for your industry on the federal level. These associations have accomplished an incredible amount, and they can accomplish even more with you as a member. 

Your peers in the industry have been working hard for you. Isn’t about time you joined them? Join NAA and NMHC today! 

Eviction Moratoriums: 3 Things Property Managers Need to Know

In the chaos of the 2020 pandemic and subsequent federal eviction moratoriums, information has evolved rapidly and often, leaving both residents and property managers confused about the rights and responsibilities of all parties. 

With the moratorium set to expire at the end of March 2021, it’s important to prepare for the changes it will set in motion. 

1. You must communicate to residents now what an eviction moratorium is … and that it will end. 

Now is the time to make sure that all residents understand what’s at stake and how you are prepared to help them: 

The moratorium is not rent forgiveness.

Some residents may be operating under the assumption that a moratorium is rent forgiveness. They need to know that they still owe all back and current rent and that after moratoriums are lifted, past nonpayment can lead to evictions. 

Tenants must show that they made an effort.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says tenants are supposed to make payments “to the best of their ability, up to the full amount of the rent,” so they may eventually have to show proof of their spending habits and that they made their best effort to pay rent.

One way they can do this is to establish payment plans for your residents. Encourage them to use any available stimulus or unemployment disbursements to begin paying toward back rent. By setting them up on a payment plan, you can be sure you can get some of the money owed to you on a regular basis.

2. The moratorium applies only to non-payment of rent. 

If the emergency moratorium legislation feels like it has stripped you of any resources for protecting your investments, you’ll be glad to know that property managers still have the right to sue for overdue rent, even if they can’t evict for non-payment. 

And they can still evict those who are violating rules. It’s important to remind residents that failure to communicate with their landlord can be evidence of non-monetary default on the lease, giving you the right to take action. For best results, communicate with residents via text messages (the most effective channel for many residents) and keep a record of all communication (in print form). 

Because the penalty for violating the eviction moratorium is quite steep ($200k), we advise you to work with a qualified lawyer in the industry if you decide to take any action. 

3. Prepare now for clusters of vacancies. 

When eviction moratoriums are lifted, be ready with additional staff for maintenance and turnover and for the financial impact a higher rate of evictions will have. 

Begin preparing a pool of candidates that will be ready to go when evictions become a reality. Affordable housing PMs, especially, need to make allowances for the additional time required for verification and move-in eligibility processes. 

This is a good time to ramp up your leasing efficiency. Greater reliance on technology has been a rising trend since the pandemic began, because it allows property managers and staff to complete verifications quickly and streamline the entire leasing process for both prospects and your team. The right property management platform also provides a better experience for prospects, giving you a competitive edge in the industry. 

How ResMan Can Help

 ResMan offers a full suite of virtual leasing office components including: 

Payment Plans

Create and track custom resident payment plans within the ResMan property management solution. Most platforms only allow for a 30-day payment plan, but ResMan provides greater flexibility and longer plans to help you capture lost or at-risk revenue and help residents protect their credit. 

Online Leasing

Streamline and accelerate all leasing activities within an intuitive workflow that lets you automate screening, payments and integrated forms, so you fill units faster. 

Online Payments

Reduce friction for applicants and residents and streamline back office processes when you choose a native payments system for receiving, processing and reconciling application, lease and amenity payments. 

Property managers can also consider leveraging our partnership with Sight Plan: a mobile maintenance platform to streamline inspections and work orders for the uptick in turnovers you are sure to see. 

**This is a developing story—watch for deadline extensions and other new information as matters evolve.**