MAINE, USA — COVID-19 coronavirus is having a huge impact on Maine's economy.
A record number of Mainers have been laid off. Many of them are struggling to pay rent.
In an effort to keep people in their homes, Governor Mills issued Executive Orders that temporarily prevent landlords from evicting their tenants.
"It's a tough no-win situation" said Brit Vitalius, the President of The Southern Maine Landlord Association. He says he's been hearing from a lot of landlords who are concerned and frustrated.
"My answer is welcome to the party everybody is unhappy right now, everyone has to take up some of the hit--landlords included."
Vitalius says he was glad to see Governor Mills, in partnership with MaineHousing, announce a new rental relief program that would allow tenants to apply for a one-time payment of up to 500-dollars.. that would be paid directly to the landlord.
"The $500 is absolutely not going to go far especially in Portland but it's an effort".
$500 is half the cost of a studio apartment in Portland.
One landlord we spoke with, but who did not want to be identified, said he understands helping tenants who have been laid off--His frustration is with tenants who weren't paying their rent before COVID-19---and now, with no legal threat looming, will use this executive order as a free ride.
Vitalius says it's a bad situation he understands all too well.
"I'm in the same situation personally. It's a tenant I really like, they were behind before this started and now they're going to be farther behind and i'm not wealthy, we can absorb some of this but there is no easy answer".
Vitalius says until the state of emergency is over---landlord and tenants will need to work together. The resources available for tenants. The up to $500 from the Rental Relief Program, unemployment benefits and the federal stimulus checks.
"Landlords should be having conversations with their tenants about those resources. Are they applying do they need help applying and make sure they are taking advantage of them."
The Executive Order is not a free ride for tenants. It does not relieve any tenant of their legal obligation to pay rent. it just provides them with more time to make payments.
Landlords should also talk to their banks if they haven't already. Vitalius says many of them are offering deferments on mortgage payments---either interest only or full deferral.
Many cities and towns are also delaying real estate and personal property tax with no interest.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus
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