When the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) last extended the eviction moratorium a third time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, from the end of June 2021 to the end of July 2021, they were clear that would be the final extension. Republicans opposing another extension of the eviction moratorium cited the recent 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, which suggested legislative approval would be required. Leading Democrats responded with brief arguments that the eviction ban needs to be extended, as Congress has only distributed $3B out of the $46.5B in approved rental relief. According to a study by the Aspen Institute, more than 15 million people in 6.5 million US households are currently behind on rental payments. The same study estimates the collective cost to landlords to this point has been over $20B. Landlord groups previously came together in an unsuccessful attempt to end the moratorium earlier, arguing the CDC overstepped their legal authority, but they were rejected by the Supreme Court’s ruling then. Determined not to give up, the National Apartment Association (NAA), with 82,600 members that collectively manage more than 9.7 million rental units, sued the U.S. government on Tuesday July 27th, seeking billions of dollars in unpaid rent due to the moratorium (Shepardson, Reuters).
While opportunities for a federal extension essentially ended when the House of Representatives adjourned Friday July 30th, effectively giving up, there are states that have already extended the eviction ban. New York and California top the list, with the two states passing bans on evictions until August 31st and September 30th, respectively (Shepardson, Reuters). Keep in mind, the justification for the CDC initially issuing this policy was due to the federal government’s direction to self-quarantine during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not primarily over economic concerns, as that would be outside the CDC’s purview. Regardless, assuming nothing changes from this point, New Yorker’s in financial crisis will only have one additional month of safe haven before they too will have to deal with the reality of federal protections stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic ending.
What does the looming end of the eviction moratorium mean for NYC’s real estate market? Firstly, as predicted by several well-known real estate attorneys, there will be a huge backlog of cases in Housing Court. Prior to the pandemic, during routine economic and geopolitical times, evictions could take anywhere from three to six months – considered typical – or sometimes drag out for years on end (Hogan, NY Post). The backlog will in turn lead to some landlords, who have certainly been financially struggling throughout this ordeal, being forced into foreclosure or given no choice but to sell cheap to cash buyers. Landlords need revenue in order to run a building. They have expenses, such as providing heat, paying personnel and staff, building supers and contractors, as well as real estate taxes to boot.
If you’re one of the savvy, fortunate investors who came out of the pandemic with a solid amount of disposable income set aside for your portfolio’s growth, a direct real estate investing approach could prove to be extremely rewarding. REIGs (Real Estate Investment Groups) can also become a powerful force in NYC’s residential real estate market in particular, once the moratorium ends. This vehicle gives real estate investors the ability to join together and pool both their money and knowledge to invest in multiple residential real estate properties. Similarly, members of the REIG would share the costs associated with property management. They could also benefit from diversification and economies of scale, which are additional benefits to joining a REIG. The bottom line for NYC is once the eviction moratorium does end, you’ll see solid opportunities for a long-term residential real estate investment. As is usually the case with financial markets during times of uncertainty, there’s definitely opportunity, but with that opportunity comes inherent market risk.