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Ohio Landlords Question National Eviction Moratorium: 'They're Just As Vulnerable'

In this May 20, 2020, file photo, signs that read "No Job No Rent" hang from the windows of an apartment building during the coronavirus pandemic in Northwest Washington.
Andrew Harnik
Associated Press
In this May 20, 2020, file photo, signs that read "No Job No Rent" hang from the windows of an apartment building during the coronavirus pandemic in Northwest Washington.

Columbus-area landlord Andrew Levering is questioning why the CDC's national moratorium on evictions, ordered by the Trump administration through the end of 2020, will not give assistance to landlords.

"The landlords are also just as vulnerable as the tenants are,” says Andrew Levering, owner of Capital Ventures. “A lot of the beginner landlords are relying on that monthly income, and when they don't have it, they can't meet their bills, so they're just as vulnerable."

In mid-March, as COVID-19 caused the mass closure of businesses, Franklin County Municipal Court stayed all eviction hearings as a means of preventing homelessness, but that ended on June 1. Then the $600 in bonus unemployment payments lapsed at the end of July, which advocates worried would make millions of residents suddenly unable to pay rent if Congress didn't intervene.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enacted the new eviction ban, saying that the ongoing pandemic "presents a historic threat to public health." Government officials hope to keep families in their homes so they don’t have to move in with others, where they could pass on the disease in close quarters.

However, the ban doesn't offer a way for landlords to make up that unpaid rent.

Levering started his rental business 10 years ago, and now owns about 15 units spread over five properties in Columbus and Union County. In a typical year, Levering estimates he evicts about five renters for non-payment, but he says he tries to work with people who fall on hard times. This year, he hasn't evicted anyone.

“I personally have some longtime renters where I’ve seen their ups and downs, and I was able to go with the flow with them, and they’ve always made it up in the end,” Levering says. “But, again you still have these other situations where people are taking advantage of the system.”

Levering says he would not be surprised if the eviction moratoriums put some landlords out of business.

"There's probably a lot of landlords out there giving up, with good reason, because all the burden is coming down on them and there hasn't been any assistance to help them,” Levering says. “So yes, it's going to drastically affect the landlord-tenant business."

It's estimated Columbus has about 462,000 renters. Shelley Whalen, executive director of Community Mediation Services of Central Ohio, says about a third of those renters were at risk of losing their homes after the last federal moratorium on evictions expired on July 24.

“The good news is some $7 million has been put together here on a local level from the county, the city and some federal CARES Act money to be available to help tenants who are at risk of eviction with emergency rental assistance," Whalen says.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.