From March 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021 there was an eviction moratorium for long-term renters in California who couldn’t pay rent due to pandemic-related financial distress. I thought it would be interesting to investigate the impacts of the moratorium on renters, landlords, and most importantly, the long-term rental market … such as it is … in the Tahoe/Truckee region. I was surprised to learn from several local housing experts that the moratorium had little impact on the local front.
“To be honest, we have not really seen a lot of impact of the eviction moratorium on the landlords and tenants that we work with at Landing Locals,” said Kai Frolich, co-founder of the start-up that works to match long-term renters with second homeowners looking to offer their homes for longer periods. “There is a pretty clear requirement from our homeowners, and particularly those that participate in the Town of Truckee Workforce Grant Program, that tenants need to be employed. Maybe the reason why the eviction moratorium has not come up much is because tenants are paying rents regularly since they still have jobs. When there are issues with tenants, we do hear about it, and we haven’t heard about it in these cases.”
The experience of Landing Locals is similar to what John Falk, government affairs director for the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors, has seen: “I’ve heard anecdotal information that the long-term market has not been adversely effected here. We have such a paucity of availability that the demand will always be there.”
Frolich’s and Falk’s understanding exemplifies the status of the economy and the Tahoe real estate market. While there is certainly a shortage of housing, there is not a shortage of jobs. So, if people can find a place to live, they can find a job to pay the rent.
Falk said that the eviction moratorium, which was in effect for the entire state of California, was more geared toward urban areas as opposed to what is happening in rural areas.
“It’s a totally different profile here. A model that works in the city is not what might work in our area,” he explained. “It doesn’t take into consideration that the property owners who are renting here are mostly mom and pop; they are part of the community.”
In other words, Sierra landlords are more likely to own one rental house than an apartment complex with hundreds of renters.
The potential problem for the long-term rental market from the eviction moratorium was the perception it gave to property owners. If you are considering renting out your property long term and are told if the tenant doesn’t pay you can’t kick them out, that is a scary proposition. Because you know the tax man and the banker will still want their money.
There were programs available to reimburse landlords for lost rent, but if you listened to much of the press about the moratorium, the focus was always on how to protect tenants from being thrown out of their homes, with little mention of what happens to a homeowner who can’t collect rent. Given that focus it was understandable that landlords were leery of the program.
To conclude with a piece of good news for potential renters, Falk says that he is emphasizing with his fellow Realtors the concept that, “If you have a long-term lease, it can be as attractive as the STR market.”
Long-term rentals provide a dedicated stream of income, tenants are much more closely vetted than STR tenants, and you usually have fewer headaches than what is caused by a string of tenants coming through your property (and leaving the heat on or failing to secure the garbage). In addition, there are two other benefits of renting long term: Your bottom line is not affected if there is too little or too much snow, or if dense smoke closes the forest and makes tourists head for the coast instead of the mountains. And of course, there is the fact that this community desperately needs housing for our employees and business owners, and by providing a long-term rental, you are doing an important public service.