BOSTON (CBS) – Tenant’s rights groups have been rallying to urge Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to extend the moratorium on evictions past the October 17th deadline.
But there’s another side to all of this: many landlords are struggling to keep up with their own mortgages and some risk bankruptcy.
It’s not quite that dire for Shaun Sutcliffe, but he is feeling the weight of two mortgages. He and his partner bought their dream house in Provincetown back in February, but they have not been able to step foot inside because the people living in the home refused to move out, and then the coronavirus hit and the state passed the moratorium.
“It’s been really tough,” Sutcliffe said.
Sutcliffe and his partner now have to cover the mortgage on that house as well as they Weymouth home they are living in.
“I work two jobs. My partner works two jobs. At this point in our lives, we didn’t think we would have to be doing extra jobs, but just to keep our heads above water is all we can do,” he said.
In a news conference last month, Governor Charlie Baker appeared to understand the stress on landlords.
“The longer this thing goes on, the deeper the hole gets, not just for tenants, but for landlords as well,” Baker said.
But even if the moratorium is not extended past the October 17th deadline, there are more hurdles ahead, according to Real Estate Attorney Jordana Roubicek Greenman, who filed a federal lawsuit asking a judge to end the moratorium.
“There is going to be gigantic court backlog,” she said explaining that it could be months before homeowners get their cases heard in court.
Even if a landlord does win in court, it won’t help much if the tenant can’t pay the back rent that has been piling up. “Instead of having $1,500 in unpaid rent, all of a sudden you are going to owe $15,000, and you are never going to be able to pay that,” she said.
Sutcliffe has even offered cash to the people living in his home to move out.
“My intent is not to shame these guys, I just want what is fair,” he said.
Roubicek Greenman lost her court case, and worries about clients that she has who are now drawing on their retirement savings to cover their mortgage.
“A lot of people could end up filing for bankruptcy,” Greenman said. “The whole thing is entirely devastating.”