Experts say evictions will be limited as moratorium ends

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., (WOOD) — Grand Rapids groups are expecting minimal impact locally when a federal moratorium on evictions expires Saturday at midnight.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the moratorium in September.

The Grand Rapids Urban League says while the pandemic resulted in massive job loss, most of its clients were able to secure funding to make rent payments.

“Normally we see tenants coming in who have issues with rent. So we monitor those things and help to mediate those things, but we saw an uptick in landlords trying to figure out how do they navigate this moratorium and once it’s over how do they recuperate some of that money (lost),” Darius Mitchell, the director of housing and economic security for the Grand Rapids Urban League, said.

He said there were some families that fell behind on rent, but additional unemployment benefits and rental assistance programs helped many while people were out of work due to the pandemic.

Similarly, some Grand Rapids property managers say most of their tenants were able to make their regular rent payments over the last year.

“Our collection rates haven’t dipped very much,” said Tim Vandentoorn, a partner at United Properties of West Michigan. “We saw maybe a 4% drop in our rates. So we average, across our portfolio of about 1,000 properties, a 98% collection rate. During COVID, that dropped down to about 94% and now we’re back up to 96%.”

Vandentoorn said that in addition to government assistance programs, the property owners his company manages raised about $40,000 for tenants who were struggling to pay rent. Vandentoorn said of the tenants at risk of eviction, many were already behind on rent before the pandemic.

“We had owners that were owed anywhere from $10,000 to 15,000 of unpaid rent. So that owner during that time still had to figure out a way to pay for his mortgage pay for his bills and even his utilities,” Vandetoorn said.

Vandentoorn says now that the moratorium is ending, landlords will have more control.

“I think it will give the owners a little bit more flexibility to manage the properties as they would, or for tenants who are not paying, now we can take more immediate action,” he said.

Landlords may begin the process of evicting tenants when courts open Monday. The Urban League says because of the required notices and paperwork, it will be a while before any tenants can actually be removed from their homes.

“I don’t think there will be necessarily evictions but I think the ball, in some cases, will start to moving given certain laws. There has to be a process that takes place. It’s not instantaneous,” Mitchell said.

Families that are in need of housing assistance can find more information from the Grand Rapids House Commission

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