Landlords Know Renters are Hurting, But They Also Need Help During Coronavirus Pandemic

NBC 7 Responds spoke to a landlord and their tenant who both say they need help

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California and many cities in the state have established laws protecting renters from being evicted because of the coronavirus pandemic. Those laws protect renters from eviction even if they stop paying rent. Some landlords say they are struggling to keep their homes when renters reduce or stop paying. In San Diego, the court system is allowing eviction cases to start again, but no trials have been scheduled.

"I feel for renters, I feel for homeowners alike, but ultimately the homeowners are the one responsible to pay the mortgage," said Marjorie Gundert, who rents out her home in La Mesa. "If they don't pay, they could lose everything."

Gundert purchased her first home right before she moved to Los Angeles for a year-long job. She planned to rent out the home until she moved back to San Diego county.

"Two weeks before I was planning to move in, I get a text from my tenants," said Gundert. "It said we're going to stay in your home and stay through the pandemic for safety reasons."

Gundert said her tenants haven't paid since mid-February. Since they are still living in the home, she has had to rent a room for herself.

"Not only am I paying for my own rent, for my own living accommodations, but now I'm having to pay the rent for people who are living in my own house and won't even communicate with me," Gundert said.

NBC 7 Responds was able to talk with the tenant, Clint Porter. He said he is applying for rental assistance with the city and plans to give the money directly to Gundert. However, the city assistance plan only allows a one-time payment of $4,000, which is less than two months of Porter's rent.

"I am protecting my immune-compromised family members and exercising my legal rights to occupy my home until a court order tells me different, or the pandemic ends," said Porter in a statement sent to NBC 7.

Gundert said she could file for an eviction, but because of the protections for renters, nothing will happen.

"I've worked really hard to save for this house, to be able to buy what for me is an investment, and I've never been able to live in it," Gundert said.

Right now, Gundert says she can barely make ends meet.

"I'm being told by a lot of people that I'm the 'evil landlord' and really this is unjust," Gundert said. "For me, it means that I have no financial resources. Every month my money is going toward all these housing accommodations."

She knows that many people are in a tough spot because of the coronavirus pandemic, but says there needs to be help for the homeowners. Gundert said she even offered to pay her renters to move out of the house.

"If (Governor Newsom) is going to provide relief for renters, he needs to provide the same relief for homeowners," Gundert said. "There are a lot of assistance programs for renters. However, there are no assistance programs for homeowners."

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