The pandemic devastated the rental economy, and many property owners still haven't recovered. "When you go almost 18 months without consistent rental income on a property, it really puts a struggle on these operators to make sure they can maintain the property," says Stephanie Graves, owner of Q10 Property Advisors in Houston. "So we feel like things are looking up, but it's gonna take time."
The reason things are looking up for landlords is the federal eviction moratorium finally ended in September, after a year and a half of letting renters essentially squat on properties they weren't paying for, or in some cases weren't even living in. "The real struggle is the (tenants) that moved out, and moved in with family or friends, and left the landlord with six, eight, or ten thousand dollars in delinquent rent that was never paid," says Graves. "Now the landlord can't get reimbursed for that money since the person no longer lives at the property."
All of the rental help money doled out by Congress hasn't helped landlords much, either. Of the $46 billion in emergency rental assistance funds allocated by Congress, only $7.7 billion has been distributed. "There was just a huge gap of lost rent...that will never be made whole to the landlord," says Graves.
Faced with these economic hardships, many landlords are now ditching their properties altogether. "We're seeing many, many owners choosing to sell because the market is going well right now, rather than have to put more money into an asset that they feel unsure about," says Graves.
With more rental properties being sold, Graves warns the rental market will be hurt even more. "When (owners) decide to sell, what happens is new people come in and renovate, then raise rent," she tells KTRH. "And so the pool of affordable housing is being affected greatly."