From the Record:
Elena Walczyk had a buyer lined up to purchase the mobile home in Cape May County that she and her husband had rented out for years. But when Walczyk, 59, gave her tenant notice to terminate their lease about four months ago, the tenant stopped paying her $350 monthly rent and water bills, Walczyk said, estimating the renter now owes more than $2,100.
As a result, Walczyk had to borrow approximately $1,000 from her 86-year-old mother to make her property tax payments, utilities and insurance on time, something she said is “unacceptable.”
Since March 2020, New Jersey banned evictions in order to keep families safe and housed even if they weren’t able to make rent payments, especially as Garden State businesses experienced mass layoffs in the wake of government-mandated business closures. Walczyk’s renter said she lost her retail job after the pandemic started.
But these protections left many small landlords without income and struggling to cover costs due. Towns didn’t give landlords a property tax holiday: If they didn’t make their scheduled payments, homeowners risked penalties or liens on their properties.
New Jersey is relying on distributing rental assistance to landlords to make them whole, but the process has been slow: Since the end of July, agencies passed out less than 25% of the more than $1 billion allocated by the federal government.
And to receive rental assistance, landlords need tenants to cooperate and sign off on the application, something several landlords told NorthJersey.com their tenants refused to do.