Owners of this apartment complex are part of a group of landlords. They have filed a lawsuit against new rules against evictions. (AP)

Owners of this apartment complex are part of a group of landlords. They have filed a lawsuit against new rules against evictions. (AP)

Tenant-landlord-bank relationships are like a ladder. If one rung breaks, it may cause other rungs to break too.

Tenant-landlord-bank relationships are like a ladder. If one rung breaks, it may cause other rungs to break too.

Gary Zaremba inspects the roof of one of his properties. Landlords must pay for mortgages, repairs, and other expenses. They depend on renters for money. (AP)

Gary Zaremba inspects the roof of one of his properties. Landlords must pay for mortgages, repairs, and other expenses. They depend on renters for money. (AP)

A man walks in front of a For Rent sign in a window of a property in San Francisco, California. (AP)

A man walks in front of a For Rent sign in a window of a property in San Francisco, California. (AP)

Gary Zaremba stands for a portrait outside a house he oversees. Seven months after the pandemic began, landlords face an even more uncertain future. (AP)

Gary Zaremba stands for a portrait outside a house he oversees. Seven months after the pandemic began, landlords face an even more uncertain future. (AP)

Broken Ladder

Posted: January 1, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic hit the United States in March. Government officials knew people would need help paying for what they needed during the challenging time. Congress decided to give $2.2 trillion to Americans. The governing body also ruled that landlords couldn’t force non-paying renters to leave their homes for 120 days. (Forcing a renter to leave is called eviction.) But the pandemic dragged on. Officials said many landlords still couldn’t evict, even after the 120 days had ended. 

These new renting rules acted like a safety net. They helped a lot of people stay in their homes. But no human plan works perfectly. In many cases, this plan doesn’t work well for landlords.

Imagine tenant-landlord-bank relationships like a ladder. Renters depend on landlords for homes. Landlords depend on renters for money. Up the ladder, landlords depend on banks to loan them money. They use it to buy the properties they will rent. Banks depend on landlords to make payments on those loans.

When one rung of this interdependent “ladder” breaks, the other rung can hold on for only so long. Many people carry tough burdens during the pandemic—lost jobs, concerns about health, and feeling isolated from family and friends. Landlords may face these too. Plus, they carry an extra burden. They worry about how to pay for their properties without rent money coming in. Landlords may allow renters to stay without paying for a while. That’s generous. But landlords have to be responsible too. Resources are running out. Eventually, they’ll have to pay their bills.

How can we solve the problem? There’s no easy answer. Every man-made solution has limits. We need a Savior who promises a time when we can “come and buy . . . without money.” (Isaiah 55:1) When we live with God in the new heavens and new Earth, all our desires will be fulfilled. There will be no pandemic, no worry, no tears—and resources will never run out.