Landlords: Eviction moratorium will have lasting effects on tenants, neighborhoods
Tenants protest to extend eviction moratorium.{ } Now that it's passed, landlords say they cannot afford to pay property taxes if they're not collecting rent warning it could lead to absentee landlords, who hurt good tenants, or zombie properties, which hurt neighborhoods. (File photo){ }{p}{/p}

New York has extended eviction protections for tenants through January.  

Yet there's a gaping hole involving landlords.

Some are now falling behind in property taxes and that could ultimately fall back on the people who rent from them - and on the neighborhoods.  

"I don't make enough to subsidize city rental properties," said Rich Tyson.

Tyson is a Realtor who wanted to do more to invest in Rochester neighborhoods, so he became a landlord.  Gradually, over five years, he acquired and refurbished 37 properties.  

Then came the notices in the mail.  

"These are what I'm starting to get, which are back taxes," he told 13WHAM.

Tyson says he owes a combined $52,000 in taxes to the City of Rochester and Monroe County.  Some of that is in arrears. 

 "Mortgages, insurances:  all these things are an emergency today if they don't get paid.  So (the taxes) are a bill a lot of us have had to put on the back burner," he said of he and his fellow landlords. 

"The majority of that is from losses I've had to take for housing people for free for a year and a half," he added. 

The national Apartment Association says of every dollar a landlord takes in, 14 cents goes to property taxes. It doesn't sound like much. But factor in that many renters stopped paying a single dime because of moratoriums meant to ease the hardships of the pandemic - and it adds up. 

Tyson said when COVID hit, he lost 60% of his rental income from tenants who had stopped paying and were protected from eviction. It's something he predicted in a video he posted to Twitter last year - aimed at then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.  

"I'm sending my tax bills over to Andrew Cuomo," he says in the video. 

In the video, he explains that the majority of his tenants who had stopped paying continued to collect social service payments meant to go to rent.  

"As a housing provider, I don't want to throw people out," he said Monday. "The problem is the courts have not been checking the facts if these people have been impacted by COVID.'

There are tax liens against at least 194 residential properties in Monroe County; 149 of those are in the City of Rochester.

After protests in Rochester and across the state, lawmakers extended the ban on evictions. The move protects landlords with up to 10 units from having properties with liens sold out from under them. Yet they'll eventually have to pay the back taxes they owe.

There's a federal fund of $46.5 billion to help tenants get checks to their landlords. Yet only about one-fifth of the money has gone out so far.

Tyson said he is now selling his properties to avoid bankruptcy. All but three of the properties he has sold so far are going to large landlords who don't live here but are scooping up property. He said that punishes good tenants who are also struggling and now may face higher rents from a new landlord they've never even met.

He's also sounding another alarm.

"As the people who can't get out from under tax foreclosure start to go under, then we've got vacant properties that sit for years and years," he said.  "The impacts are going to be felt way beyond COVID."

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