A Landlord On CDC's Halt On Evictions | WCAI

A Landlord On CDC's Halt On Evictions

Sep 2, 2020
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Some renters are breathing a sigh of relief today after the CDC ordered a temporary halt on residential evictions through the end of the year, the thinking being that keeping people from getting kicked out of their homes and not being on the move - that this could help prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Among those protected are people who have lost jobs during the pandemic.

Now, on the other side, consider landlords. There is no specific aid for landlords in this order, and property owners in America are not just big business entities and companies. More than half the rental units in the U.S. are owned by individual investors. Well, we're going to speak next to one of them, a landlord, Rich McGimsey, who owns 315 apartments throughout Virginia.

Mr. Rich McGimsey, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

RICH MCGIMSEY: Thank you, Mary Louise.

KELLY: I know this order's brand-new, but have you started thinking about how it's going to impact your business?

MCGIMSEY: We have, and I think the first thing that we want to say is there's - no landlord wants to evict anyone out of their apartments. The last thing we want is an empty apartment, and we take all precautions we can to help keep them there. We do payment plans. We help get assistance from community organizations.

And so this feels like it's a burden that we are now having to take care of all the unemployed workers out there. You know, I feel like our property rights are being taken. You know, I have scraped and scrapped and borrowed to build a business, and I've got six employees. What are we going to do? If nobody pays the rent, how are we going to pay our banks? How am I going to pay my employees?

KELLY: Can you just give me an example of how the pandemic has affected your bottom line so far up until today?

MCGIMSEY: We are still making it. People are paying. We've got some that are struggling, and we're helping with trying to get them in front of organizations that can help pay their rent. And you know, the bottom line is we haven't failed to meet any of our obligations, but we haven't needed to evict anybody either. And we're scared that the order's going to change that. If there are hundreds of people that aren't going to pay, then I'm going to start to not meet my obligations. And then what do my employees do and the households that rely on them?

KELLY: Have you gotten any CARES money, any other federal money, any offers of help?

MCGIMSEY: We applied for the PPP money and received...

KELLY: The Paycheck Protection Program.

MCGIMSEY: Paycheck protection plan - that helped us keep all our employees fully employed.

KELLY: OK. And any more forthcoming, to your knowledge?

MCGIMSEY: I feel like the assistance that needs to be given is not necessarily to a business like me but to the people that need it. The people that aren't working need it. And instead of making the burden on our shoulders for the people that aren't able to pay their rent, the government should be helping them to pay their rent.

KELLY: And I wonder - what is the conversation like among your peers? There are a whole lot of landlords all over the country trying to figure out - everybody's hurting here. What is - is there a middle way forward?

MCGIMSEY: Yeah. I think everybody is scared of when we hear dates of - that there's going to be an eviction moratorium until April of 2021. You start to look and see, well, how can I operate that long without revenue? We realize that not everybody that lives in our apartments are all not going to pay, but if it went to 2021, then how much of a percentage is that? And then that, you know, 10-, 12-, 15% of people not paying is going to wreak havoc on the apartment industry.

And I think this eviction moratorium is going to have all kinds of unintended consequences. If apartment providers are going to look at a resident coming in and think, well, they may not pay, and if they don't, they're going to stay here till April 2021, then you're going to raise your criteria. It's going to be so much harder for people with blemished credit to go ahead and get an apartment.

KELLY: Well, Mr. McGimsey, we thank you for your time today.

MCGIMSEY: Well, thank you.

KELLY: That is Rich McGimsey, landlord in the state of Virginia, owner of RGM Properties. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.