Brown Harris Stevens Chief Executive Bess Freedman called for a “bit of humanity” on Monday as moratoriums on evictions are set to expire nationwide later this month, potentially impacting millions of homeowners and renters who have been protected since March through the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.
“We have to apply a little bit of humanity in this environment because we are all in this storm, but not everybody is in the same boat,” Freedman said on CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” arguing for compromise during what has been a trying time for most.
Brown Harris Stevens is a New York City-based brokerage with a focus on luxury residential real estate. The firm also services The Hamptons, Palm Beach and Miami, as well as other East Coast markets. BHS recently absorbed Halstead Real Estate, for a combined force of about 2,500 real estate agents across 55 offices.
Given the deeply interconnected economic relationship between landlords and tenants, Freedman said more solutions should be considered.
“If landlords aren’t getting their rent, they can’t pay their mortgages, then they may have to lay people off and that puts more strain on an already very, very high unemployment rate, so that is not helpful,” Freedman said. “You’re going to see housing court jam packed. You’re going to see a lot of evictions and homelessness, which is something we don’t want to see.”
Freedman said public policymakers and individuals in the private sector should “compromise a bit.”
“Maybe a discount on rent. Maybe another month where they don’t have to pay rent,” Freedman added.
Although individual state governments have enacted emergency tenant protection measures, these vary widely. Some states like Florida and Indiana for instance, have measures in place until August 1, 2020, while Oregon has protections in place through the end of September.
To date, there have been more than 3.8 million coronavirus cases in the U.S., and 140,904 coronavirus-related deaths. The unemployment rate for June was 11.1 percent, exceeding unemployment highs from the Great Recession.
Congress is currently considering a second coronavirus relief bill. However, the particulars remain to be ironed out in the remaining days before the current benefits expire.