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Local landlords show leniency

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Generally, this time of month landlords are welcoming payments into their bank accounts or perhaps preparing to reluctantly post an eviction notice on a far overdo tenant’s door. Currently, however,  there is a push to halt evictions for a period of time that’s end is elusive. Here’s how some landlords are handling the economic strain of COVID-19. 

A nonprofit’s perspective

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Colin Laird is the director of the Third Street Center (TSC) — a nonprofit facility which hosts community events and provides below market office space for other nonprofits. 

“Our goal is to use this old elementary school to build community,” Laird says, “and also create a platform for organizations to address issues in our region.”

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“Even though the Town of Carbondale owns the facility we don’t get public funding because it was all set up to be self sustaining,” Laird explains. 

The TSC makes most of its income from rent payments, but some revenue comes by way of hosting community events. As things stand, that income is non-existent due to the public closure of the building amid social distancing requirements. 

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About a third of the TSC’s revenue goes toward paying its debt. The TSC’s original renovations were paid for partially by fundraising but also through a lender: Alpine Bank. Each of the nonprofits housed in TSC pays its below market rent; TSC uses $10,000 from that total to pay Alpine Bank each month. 

Laird expresses his gratitude to Alpine Bank and their loan deferral program, which TSC has opted to utilize. TSC has been granted a three-month deferral which will expire in July. 

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“It’s made things a little easier in terms of paying bills and that kind of stuff,” Laird says and reticently adds, ”but it’s three months and we’ll see if that’s enough.” 

Some tenants have approached Laird with the concern of not being able to pay their rent. “We’ve basically asked tenants if they can pay rent to please do,” Laird explains, “but if you can’t just contact us and we’ll work with that.” TSC is taking it on a case-by-case basis. 

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Laird has encouraged tenants to apply for federal relief that may be available to them. Specifically, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) “Which not only pays employees but also covers rent for those organizations as well,” according to Laird. TSC applied for PPP and has recently been accepted. Laird mentions that a few other nonprofits within TSC have also been approved for the same federal relief program.

Laird hopes that, “We can all get through this with some sense of wholeness and then go from there,”

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Insight from residential landlords

After hearing two local residential landlords’ perspectives the consensus is that they’ll also work with their tenants during these uncertain times. 

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When asked how he would handle renters approaching him for relief, local landlord John Hoffman says, “That would be considered on a case-by-case manner.  Options might be from, forgiving a month or lowering the rent to installments over a longer time.” 

Another local residential landlord, who asks to remain anonymous, reached out to each of their tenants letting them know there would be some leniency if they need it. When rent was due last month Anonymous offered some of their tenants a 25 percent discount and has even offered a 50 percent discount for the month of May to their tenants who are in dire straits.

The landlord found that mortgage company SunTrust Mortgage Co. offers a three or six month deferral — but under the condition that the entire deferred sum would be due at the end of the postponement period. 

In this case, the anonymous landlord feels fortunate to be secure enough at this time to continue offering some relief to their tenants without requiring any themselves.

Each landlord interviewed for this article echoed the same sentiment that “we are all in this together.” Not to say every landlord has the same outlook, but it may be heartwarming to know there are a few in Carbondale who feel this way despite their own setbacks during this time.

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