Surviving the Eviction Moratorium: Options for Landlords in Crisis

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Today we’re speaking with Dave, a landlord with several residential properties. Like many other landlords, Dave now finds himself struggling with tenants unable or unwilling to pay their rent due to the current economic climate. We spoke to him about how Oxygen XL has been able to meet his needs and get him back on the road to economic recovery.

 

JA: Dave, can you give us a brief sense of your holdings as a landlord and how things ran for you until early 2020?

Dave: Of course, Jonathan. Over the years I have purchased and managed a few multi-family residential buildings throughout New Jersey. We have over 500 units. A few properties are paid off but, for several, I still pay mortgages. This has never been an issue since my tenants have been good, hard-working people with average to good credit. They paid on time and I, in return, always made sure they have comfortable apartments. It was a good co-existence. Then Covid-19 came and many of my tenants’ jobs were affected. Then their payments slowed and, for some, stalled completely. Meanwhile, I still have mortgages to be paid each month. My financial well-being has been dramatically impacted due to moratoriums on residential evictions.

 

JA: How long have you been dealing with this situation?

Dave: Most of my tenants were impacted once NJ issued stay-at-home orders in March 2020. Some had savings to work with so they remained on-time for a short time. Others live check-to-check, so they became delinquent immediately.

 

JA: How did you find help?

Dave: I am fortunate that I have been using Oxygen for my accounts receivable for quite some time. Since they have been so good at handling this business service for me and I have a nice relationship with the team, I asked if they had any programs to help with this unique situation. I am grateful that I did.

 

JA: Why is that? What was our team able to do for you?

Dave: In truth, the tenants were falling far behind. Total amounts due were getting out of control but working on a contingency basis with a collection agency can be quite cost prohibitive. It hit critical mass for me and I worked with the team to pursue flat fee judgements, an alternative option that I have been really pleased with. For tenants who hadn’t paid in months and owed – let’s say $10,000, I knew they would never get caught up. Once back on their feet, they would end up taking years to pay back their past due rent – if ever. Oxygen helped me obtain judgements for the full amount due to me plus filing fees and other small expenses I had to lay out. With these judgements, some of my tenants made payment arrangements to repay in short order, particularly those collecting unemployment plus the federal unemployment boost, and those who are working but took advantage of the eviction moratorium.

With the funds paid so far, I have been able to catch up on my mortgage payments and save my personal and business credit rating. Some tenants are paying in very small amounts – and they are really behind – but at least now they are making SOME good faith payments.

 

JA: How long did this process take for you?

Dave: Well, each one has been a little different but, on average, each tenant’s process took about 90-120 days. As I gave each tenant over to Oxygen to pursue the flat-fee money judgement, the amount they owed stopped accruing. The tenant cannot claim the money is not owed…they have a lease and a responsibility to pay. So, the summary judgement is provided and the tenant has a short window of time to start making payments. If they don’t, I have the right to send it to collections [which, fortunately, Oxygen handles for me]. Now the lack of payment can be reported to credit reporting agencies. This provides small landlords with significant leverage – something that really helps. Before I began this process with Oxygen, I thought I had no recourse – I thought I would never see the money that I am honestly owed. Now I am seeing some payments. It’s been a lifesaver.

 

JA: Was this an expensive option for you?

Dave: All of this came with a simple flat fee to Oxygen. A landlord/tenant attorney would have been much more. And, in truth, I couldn’t have done this myself. I consider it worth every penny.

 

JA: Is there anything else about the process you want to share?

Dave: I don’t want to be the villain in the story. Small landlords have bills to pay and families to care for too. We’ve worked hard to make this part of our livelihood. Having a lot of your tenants stop paying because of the pandemic – even those who ARE working and can pay, shifts the financial hardship to us. This process eases the burden and makes sure we can be made whole again. It’s really been a saving grace and I am very grateful.

 

Thanks to Dave for sharing his story. If you are a New Jersey landlord struggling with tenants who are not paying due to the current economic climate and Covid-19 issues,please visit www.OxygenXL.com or contact me, Jonathan Abenson, CEO of Oxygen XL at [email protected] or call 845-579-2950 x 201. My team and I are here to help you reach a resolution that will enable your business to recover.