How the Covid-19 Pandemic Impacted the Housing Sector

There is no denying that the COVID-19 crisis became a dark worldwide phenomenon. According to statistics, more than 965,000 died due to the virus as of September 2020. While more than 21 million already recovered, the number of cases continues to grow, with the current count being at least 31.2 million. It is not only our health that was impacted by the virus but almost every aspect of our lives. Almost all industries were affected, including the real estate sector.

Construction projects were shut down while ordinary people are left using up their savings to pay for their rent. Since social distancing and isolation requires one to have a roof above their head, people are prioritizing their housing more. Even homeowners who still have mortgages to pay are having a hard time keeping up with their monthly dues. Now, many people are facing impending evictions, foreclosures, and even unexpected home repairs that can cost more than a few hundreds of dollars. While some are quite problematic about their housing, several people took advantage of the situation by refinancing their mortgage.

Mortgage Refinancing During the Time of the Pandemic

Some homeowners decided to refinance their home loan during the pandemic. If done the right way, refinancing can help you lower your monthly payments, shorten your mortgage term, and acquire a better mortgage. You can even save more money by getting a better mortgage rate. In some cases, you can borrow against your equity so you can fund necessary home improvements or even pay off existing debts that require your immediate payment.

The Eviction Crisis

Many people were already burdened with the high rental costs even before the pandemic struck. Most renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing alone. Thanks to the crisis, up to 25% of renters are now spending up to 50% of their monthly income on rent. Consequently, renters are not the only ones who are affected but, the landlords and property owners as well.

Landlords who will evict their renters due to their tenant’s inability to pay their rent can face serious consequences. They can lose tenants on a short or long-term basis thus losing rental income. They may have to pay reletting costs for voiding their original lease contract. They can also face court fees after their tenant complains of getting evicted during the pandemic.

The good news is, the government and many non-profit organizations are standing up for renters. According to Diane Yentel, chief executive of National Low Income Housing Coalition claims housing is more important now since we can consider “housing as healthcare.” One’s ability to self-isolate at home becomes a must to increase one’s protection against contracting the virus. According to Yentel, the people who are in charge of making political decisions should find ways to better protect renters facing eviction in the time of the pandemic.

The government is urging landlords to be more forgiving to their tenants who fail to pay their dues in time of the pandemic. This serves as an extra layer of protection to renters who were badly hit by the crisis. Now, renters and homeowners in public housing can have 60 days hold in foreclosure. Sadly, this is only for the population who has a federally-backed mortgage.

There are some cases when landlords are allowed to evict tenants. In Washington, there’s an eviction moratorium where a landlord can only evict a tenant under certain circumstances. If the tenant is causing a threat to their landlord or other tenants, the landlord can force the eviction. Note that having COVID-19 is not a ground for eviction. If the landlord decides to move into the property or decides to sell it, the tenant is given a 60-day notice.

Rent Help During the Pandemic

Calculator, money, piggy bank

Struggling to pay your rent along with your utilities during the pandemic? Know that there are available programs that aim to help renters with this very issue. Quick internet research will lead to a number of results showing possible rent help. Even if evictions are temporarily paused, you should always find ways to avoid an impending eviction. The good news is, if you meet the criteria set by different local programs, you can get help in paying for your rent and your monthly utilities while you find a job during the pandemic.

The pandemic continues to set fear in people’s hearts as well as financial headaches. People’s limited funds stop them from paying their rent and utilities on time. As the economy opens, people can start looking for jobs, so they can finally pay their housing dues and avoid evictions. If you’re still struggling, know that many programs are here to help and that you can enjoy temporary tenant protection.

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