Retired couple who relies on rental income desperate for relief: 'Hope is not a business plan'

SEATTLE -- Unemployment numbers continue to skyrocket and new numbers released this week show almost 1 in 3 people nationwide have not paid their April rent at all.

Over the last few weeks, Q13 FOX has been sharing ways for renters to stay afloat during these hard times.  But it's also tough for homeowners and landlords who rely on rental income for their livelihoods.

People like Lorraine Weeks and Ed Doyne are in that situation. The couple has worked hard for decades and they say their road to retirement was only possible because of their rental properties.

Weeks worked for Goodwill for 27 years while Doyne an ex-marine worked in the commercial property industry before he retired.

“Hope is not a business plan but we hope things will smooth out sooner than later,” Weeks said.

Over the years they’ve put a lot of care into maintaining their rentals.

Now some of their tenants are struggling to pay rent so the couple is trying to be flexible.

“We look at them almost like they are our kids because some of them have been there forever,” Doyne said.

They are losing sleep over how they are going to pay their mortgages and those kinds of concerns are causing many to call people like Dan Golden.

“My phone is blowing up with people wanting a refinance analysis,” Golden said.

Golden is with Cornerstone Home Lending and he says if your mortgage rate is in between the upper 3’s into the 4 percentage rate or higher, refinancing could potentially save you hundreds of dollars a month since interest rates are very low right now.

“You can actually forget a couple of payments that’s not a forbearance that’s just in the process of refinancing you can skip one or sometimes two mortgage payments,” Golden said.

But refinancing isn’t for everyone leaving many landlords without a safety net. People who own rental properties may not be able to lock in the lowest interest rates compared to those refinancing a home they live in. Also anyone with a jumbo loan in Washington state or a loan more than $741,000 may find it harder to qualify for a refinance.

That’s why groups like Washington Multi Family Housing Association and Rental Housing Association representing thousands of property owners are calling on the government to step in.

The biggest fear is the expenses of operating and maintaining that rental property,” Brett Waller with Washington Multi Family Housing Association said.

Waller says the best survival plan for both renters and landlord is a rental assistance program in the billions.

“Approximately 1 in 4 individuals who need rental assistance have the ability to access that right now,” Waller said.

Waller is hoping a bill in Congress fighting to give renters $100 billion will be approved.

Weeks and Doyne say it’s the only way they will be able to keep their properties without selling them.

“We are all in this together we can do it but we really need help, we are not going to evict somebody we’ve never done that in 30 years,” Doyne said.

There is an eviction moratorium but for Doyne even if there wasn’t, an eviction wouldn’t be the answer.

The couple could ask their mortgage company for a forbearance which means delaying their payments but experts like Golden say that should be a last resort because homeowners will have a hard time catching up.