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'All my income is gone': Tenants, landlords voice coronavirus fears as rents come due

James F. Peltz, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

LOS ANGELES -- Tenants and landlords across the country are bracing for Wednesday, when April rents are due just as thousands of people have lost their jobs and most business have been shut down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Government officials have provided certain protection against evictions for renters and limited mortgage relief for landlords affected by the virus. Some landlords say they are trying to work out deferred payment plans with tenants to make up for any missed rental payments.

But stress, fear and confusion remain, especially in Los Angeles County, where 55% of residents are renters and rents are among the highest in the nation.

Here's how are a few tenants and landlords are grappling with the crisis:

'I'm not going to have the money'

Martin Isenberg lost all three jobs he was working when the coronavirus crisis hit and businesses shut down.

 

"We're planning to have a conversation with our landlord and see if maybe we can do half the rent," said Isenberg, 27, who shares a $2,000-a-month apartment with his still-working girlfriend in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.

"All of my income is gone," he said, referring to his jobs as a substitute schoolteacher, bartender and freelance Hollywood set dresser. "I was working constantly and still struggling to pay rent, so of course when something like this happens, I'm not going to have the money.

"I'm just trying to be as frugal as possible and I applied for unemployment," Isenberg said, adding that he's concerned about having to make up for any unpaid rent in the months to come.

"When I finally do go back to work when this is all over, and I have zero dollars in my savings account because I used it all on groceries and the basic expenses of living, then I'm expected to pay my rent for that month and be given six months to pay back the rent that I didn't pay," he said.

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