COVID-19 Real Estate Resources

Evictions, Foreclosures, & Forbearance

80% of jobs lost to coronavirus recession were blue collar jobs, so we’re seeing the biggest impact in residential rentals and commercial rents and mortgages of non-essential businesses that cannot or do not provide take-out services.

Construction companies are eligible for PPP loans under the CARES Act, but, homebuilders are still in limbo.  The problem arises because under previous SBA guidance, "speculative" enterprises didn’t qualify for SBA loans.  “Speculative enterprises” include wildcatting in oil; dealing in stocks, bonds or commodity futures; mining gold or silver; and "building homes for future sale."  Also, passive businesses owned by developers and landlords who don't use or occupy the assets aren't generally eligible for SBA loans.  There is a lot going on at the federal level to resolve this.  We will update you as we learn more. 

In addition to the provisions in the CARES Act, various municipal and state governments have imposed bans or moratoria on commercial and/or residential properties. 

  • Washington –
  • Gov Inslee extended the eviction moratorium through 11:59 PM on August 1. The following restrictions apply to residential dwellings in Washington State:
    • Landlords, property owners, and property managers are prohibited from taking the following actions, or threatening to take such actions:
      • Assessing or threatening to assess late fees for the non-payment or late payment of rent or other charges related to a dwelling, that occurred on or after February 29, 2020.
      • Assessing or threatening to assess rent or other charges related to a dwelling if the resident’s access to, or occupancy of, such dwelling was prevented as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
      • Increasing or threatening to increase the rate of rent for any dwelling.
      • Serving or enforcing, or threatening to serve or enforce, any notice requiring a resident to vacate any dwelling. This prohibition applies unless the notice to vacate (a) is necessary to respond to a significant and immediate risk to the health, safety, or property of others created by the resident; or (b) provides at least 60 days’ written notice of intent to (i) personally occupy the premises as a primary residence, or (ii) sell the property.
    • Landlords, property owners, and property managers are prohibited from treating any unpaid rent or other charges related to a dwelling as an enforceable debt or obligation that is owing or collectable, where such non-payment was as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and occurred on or after February 29, 2020, UNLESS landlord, property owner, or property manager demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence to a court that the resident was offered, and refused or failed to comply with, a re-payment plan that was reasonable based on the individual financial, health, and other circumstances of that resident; failure to provide a reasonable re-payment plan shall be a defense to any lawsuit or other attempts to collect.
    • Landlords, property owners, and property managers are prohibited from retaliating against a tenant for invoking their rights or protections under Proclamations 20-19, 20-19.1, 20-19.2, or any other state or federal law providing rights or protections for residential dwellings. Nothing in this order prevents a landlord from seeking to engage in reasonable communications with tenants to explore re-payment plans in accordance with this order.
  • Commercial landlords, property owners, and property managers are prohibited from increasing, or threatening to increase, the rate of rent for any commercial property if the commercial tenant has been materially impacted by the COVID-19, whether personally impacted and is unable to work or whether the business itself was deemed non-essential pursuant to Proclamation 20-25 or otherwise lost staff or customers due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This prohibition does not apply to commercial rental property if rent increases were included in an existing lease agreement that was executed prior to February 29, 2020 (preCOVID-19 state of emergency).
      • Landlords, property owners, and property managers are prohibited from retaliating against tenants individuals for invoking their rights or protections under Proclamations 20-19, 20-19.1, 20-19.2, or any other state or federal law providing rights or protections. Nothing in this order prevents a landlord from seeking to engage in reasonable communications with tenants to explore re-payment plans in accordance with this order.
    • The Governor established a web form to report suspected violations of the eviction moratorium.  A violation of the order is punishable as a Gross Misdemeanor under RCW 43.06.220(5).
  • Oregon –
    • See HLG’s Grants blog for tenant rental assistance funds
    • No Residential Evictions: On April 1, Governor Brown banned residential evictions for nonpayment of rent and prohibits no-cause terminations of tenancy via Executive Order 20-13.  Tenant must notify LL as soon as reasonably possible of inability to pay rent; there is no requirement that the inability to pay be tied to COVID-19.  Tenant shall make partial payments, if financially able.  This Executive Order does not affect existing waiver law, though, so landlords may want to seek legal advice for how to accept partial payments.  Executive Order 20-11 prohibits law enforcement from serving eviction notices.  Both orders are effective for 90 days. 
      • Residential landlords in Multnomah County cannot evict residential tenants during the outbreak. Ordinance 1284 went into effect on April 16, enforceable until pandemic ends.
        • Requires compliance with state order and for 6 months thereafter, payments that were not made during the pandemic can be paid, with no late penalties, evictions, or other consequences for late payments.
        • LL that violates Ordinance 1284 owes tenant up to 3x the amount claimed and attorneys’ fees.
      • Portland Ordinance applies county ordinance within City limits.
      • Clackamas County ordinance says can’t evict residential or commercial due to inability to pay rent because of COVID-19
    • Commercial Evictions: On April 1, 2020, Governor Brown banned commercial evictions in Oregon for non-payment of rent. 
      • Prior to that, the City of Hillsboro had imposed a moratorium commercial evictions on the basis of nonpayment of rent, late charges, utility charges or any other service charge or fee, due to the loss of a commercial tenant’s business income resulting from COVID-19.
      • Clackamas County ordinance says can’t evict residential or commercial due to inability to pay rent because of COVID-19
      • Gresham penalties for terminating commercial leases – business will be denied a license to conduct business at their location for one year following the conclusion of the State of Emergency
    • Gov Brown issued EO 20-18 prohibiting creditors from garnishing CARES Act funds from individuals. 

See our blog about COVID-19 and Force Majeure Clauses in Commercial Leases for guidance on interpreting your lease.  Regardless of whether the force majeure clause has been triggered, or not, we have helped several commercial and residential landlords and tenants renegotiate leases to allow delays or temporary reductions in rent payment that must be paid back eventually (forbearance). 

Whether the property owner can obtain a forbearance in mortgage payments from their lender, depends on the lender.  The property owner should consult their lender and carefully consider whether a forbearance will negatively impact your ability to avoid foreclosure in the future, though.  Contact us if you’d like more information on these considerations.

Mortgages

  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: mortgage relief options
  • CFPB - 4 minute forbearance video
  • Multifamily property owners and renters
    • Fannie Mae is allowing lenders to grant forbearance to multi-family property owners of properties financed by Fannie Mae for up to three months if the property owner/borrower suspends evictions of tenants who face financial hardship due to COVID-19.
    • Freddie Mac is too.
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) created websites to allow renters to find out if the multifamily property where they reside has a federally-backed mortgage, which means the property is governed by the FHFA eviction ban.
    • Renters are still expected to pay their rent during the eviction moratorium, if they can. Those experiencing financial hardship should reach out to their landlord to discuss their situation and potential solutions.  
    • Fannie Mae's Multifamily Loan Lookup Toolhere
    • Freddie Mac's Multifamily Loan Lookup Tool here​.
    • Renters who need support should reach out to
      • Fannie Mae Helpline at 877-542-9723, if Fannie Mae backs their building's mortgage, or
      • Freddie Mac Helpline at 800-404-3097, if Freddie Mac backs their building's mortgage. 
    • New HUD eviction ban letter 2020-04.  On June 17, HUD in Mortgagee Letter 2020-19 extended the foreclosure and eviction moratorium for FHA insured single-family loans from June 30, 2020 to August 31, 2020.
    • New On June 17, 2020, the Veterans’ Administration (VA), in Circular 26-20-22, extended the foreclosure moratorium for VA guaranteed loans from June 30, 2020 to August 31. 2020.
    • New FHFA announced extended the Fannie and Freddie loan foreclosure moratoria to August 31.
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)  are also working together to help homeowners and renters during the coronavirus pandemic.  Learn more about:
  • Also see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB website for advice.
  • Washington State Department of Financial Institutions
  • Oregon Financing Business Resources

Construction

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