Watertown landlords say they haven’t received rent payments in months

WWNY Watertown landlords say they haven’t received rent payments in months

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The New York state eviction moratorium is meant to protect people who have been hurt financially due to the pandemic, but now there are landlords that are saying they’re in a tough spot - a hole that’s only getting deeper.

“Here are the water bills that they haven’t paid,” said Rebecca Leon, who owns a property on Broadway Avenue in Watertown. “It was the first house I ever owned by myself.”

Leon put the house up for sale and started to rent it for extra income.

But her tenants stopped paying their rent.

“They were my first tenants and they paid for two months and haven’t paid a dime since. It’ll be a year in March that I stopped getting any type of money from them,” she said.

It’s because of New York state’s eviction moratorium that Leon says she can’t evict her tenants for not paying thousands of dollars in rent.

“It’s almost $15,000,” she said.

Michael Hall is a landlord and owns Watertown’s North Star Real Estate and Property Management, a company that manages more than 100 rental units in the North Country.

“We’re seeing a lot of them behind. A lot. And it’s causing a lot of homeowners a lot of stress because when the tenants fall behind, the homeowners fall behind on the mortgage, and if they don’t have other units paying, it really kind of spirals,” he said.

And with no evictions,, Hall says he’s seeing another trend: “It’s causing such a huge shortage of new rentals and people are looking for places to move and there are no places for them to move to.”

There are only a couple of exceptions that would warrant a tenant to be evicted, but many courts are not going forward with eviction proceedings due to the pandemic.

The state is granting foreclosure protection to property owners in the event they can’t make mortgage payments. But these landlords say the money owed to them is growing and they’re concerned they’ll never see it.

“I want this to be over and I want to be able to go into my own property, I want to be able to get my property back, I want my house back,” said Leon.

But Leon will likely have to wait. As of now, the moratorium continues until May 1.

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