A landlord in Maine has postponed rent collection for April as a way to help his tenants out during the coronavirus pandemic. He also hopes to inspire fellow property owners to lessen their tenants’ financial burdens during this time.
As the virus sweeps the world, Nathan Nichols began worrying about his renters in his duplex in Portland, Maine, People reports. They had hourly jobs in the service industry and elsewhere, and knew they’d be impacted by restaurant and bar closings meant to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I have two units and one of the units there is a young family who have a one or two-year-old child. They’re on a single income and I know that they’re really living on the edge,” Nichols told the outlet. “My other tenants are millennials who work at some venues and I knew they would also be impacted.”
Nichols says he knew that because of the nature of their jobs, his tenants would have a hard time paying their rent. “If they’re not making any money, they can’t pay me. It’s not like they’re going to somehow magically get money if they’re not working," he explained.
Nichols decided to pause rent collection so that the money could go towards food and other essentials, and shared the news in a viral Facebook post on March 13.
“COVID19 is going to cause serious financial hardship for service and hourly workers around the country,” he wrote. “Because I have the good fortune of being able to afford it and the privilege of being in the owner class, I just let them know I would not be collecting rent in April.”
Nichols also encouraged other landlords to do the same if they have the financial means. He noted that he has more leeway because he has a full-time job and an emergency fund to help him in a crisis.
“I ask any other landlords out there to take a serious look at your own situation and consider giving your tenants some rent relief as well,” he added. “I’m really grateful to have good tenants who I can trust and are reliable. I don’t want to lose them and I’m grateful to them.”
In New York City, a group of major landlords has pledged to pause eviction notices for three months. Landlords in Seattle and San Francisco—like New York City, two places that have been hit hard by the virus—have also followed suit.