Landlords, Tenants Feel Economic Pressures Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

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As businesses shutter during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, tenants and landlords are having to scramble because of the economic uncertainty.

Kim Tanner, who lives and works in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, has the same landlord for both her apartment and for her shop North Avenue Collective.

With the store closed, she’s filed for a small business loan.

“The long-term economic dominoes are going to be tough. I don’t know how it’s going to shake out,” she said.

With the uncertainty facing her business, she’s had to negotiate with her landlord, who was accommodating during the process.

“I went to my landlord and asked him to work with me and he did,” she said. “We were able to come up with a plan that works for me now and for him in the coming month.”

While the state of Illinois and the federal government have both taken steps to shore up small businesses and to prevent evictions during the pandemic, it still is advisable for tenants to negotiate with their landlords rather than letting problems balloon into bigger issues over time.

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“That kind of communication and being reasonable is the best way to get through late or deferred rental payments,” landlord and tenant attorney Michael Zink said. “Yes, legally rent is due, but if you’re a landlord, you may want to work with your tenants, especially if there’s hardship (involved).”

One of the worst things a tenant can do in these situations is to not pay, and not to offer an explanation as to why.

“If it’s a situation you think could be worked out by a payment plan, even a long one, you may want to consider it,” Zink said.

The state has offered guidance to lenders and banks, asking them to defer payments or extend due dates. Banks are also being asked to waive various fees, including overdraft charges and lay payment penalties.

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