Getting evicted should not be a concern for anyone at the moment. Governor Whitmer has temporarily suspended evictions until the executive order is over, but renters, landlords and homeowners still feel confusion and discomfort with their financial situations in regards to keeping their income flowing or keeping a roof over their heads. Brian Ursu, a certified financial planner (CFP) in Traverse City has recently had a book published that guides young people starting out their lives on how to make healthy financial decisions, and the advice transcends millennials. The best thing we can do right now is of course to budget strictly, but also to open an honest dialogue with our landlords, tenants or your bank.
Tenants – If you’re renting you may not have been able to pay this month. Just because you can not get evicted at the moment does not mean your landlord can’t start the process. “The best thing you can do right now is to communicate,” Brian said. “Before the pandemic, I was counseling some young people, graduated with student loan debt of 40 grand, and they’re just overwhelmed by the amount owed. The worst thing to do is ignore it. So, if you’re renting, you need to contact your landlord and say, ‘Listen, we’re all struggling right now. I’ve applied for unemployment. I’ve done all of these steps, but I’m asking if you can give me a grace period or waive this month.’ If they don’t know that there’s a problem they’re not going to be able to help.” It may feel like you’re helpless or being irresponsible, but the thing is, if your landlord was to evict you they would likely be losing future money. As it stands right now it’s not in many landlords’ best interest to evict tenants who are struggling to pay rent because of Covid-19. When the tenant is able to pay again that rental could still be sitting empty.
Landlords – Rental properties can be an investment or a main stream of income for landlords. Like any investment, risk is a factor. When you invest money in stocks you risk losing some of it if the market plummets. If you’re a landlord you risk losing money on repairs, or on tenants not being able to pay. “Let’s say he has 10 properties, and only five of them can pay. His income is cut in half and if that’s his livelihood, that hurts. They’re not getting paid, they still have the same costs. They’re just going to have to eat those costs but what’s the alternative?” Communication is important for landlords too. When they’re asking their tenants questions about their situation it provides a little clarity from both sides, and of course, a little compassion always goes a long way. “If I’m your landlord and I give you the benefit of the doubt and say, ‘take the next two months, get yourself in order, and rent starts back up in July’ how do you feel about me?” For me, personally? Like I trust you.
Homeowners – Communicating openly with a bank is a little different than being able to text a landlord or tenant. It’s a little more tedious, too. “It’s a different dynamic because the structure is more formal and more corporate. Let’s say J.P. Morgan Chase is your bank and that’s who holds the mortgage. There’s going to be chains of command to follow and rules and procedures to get any kind of accommodation. It’s not always that easy. I think this is where the Federal Reserve and the Treasury and working with lenders to try to help backstop through this hardship, giving them the liquidity to be able to help people skip a couple of months of their mortgage or whatever payment they might have.”
Brian’s book, Now What? A Practical Guide to Figuring Out Your Financial Future, is out now. Although it’s geared towards millennials starting out their careers, the information is great for anyone who doesn’t have much financial education. You can to see if you’re interested. If you have any pressing financial questions, Brian has been doing Facebook Live chats every Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. The short segments cover a range of finance topics that are relevant to anyone, and though he hasn’t gotten any questions from viewers yet he looks encourages and looks forward to them. “I think right now, for the most part, people are trying to help other people.”
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