Regulating the Crisis: An Exploratory Study of Landlord Responses to Pandemic-Era Tenant Protection Regulations

This project examines how the behavior of private landlords is shifting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its challenges for the rental industry, including missed rental payments and a rapidly evolving legal environment governing rental housing. The first round of in-depth interviews with Chicago-area rental property owners was conducted in the spring of 2021. In collaboration with Dr. Allison Helmuth (Postdoctoral Fellow, Rice University), I received a grant from the Urban Institute’s Housing Crisis Collaborative that enabled us to analyze a pooled sample of 69 interviews with small-scale landlords and to author a white paper that was released jointly by the ABF and Urban Institute in December 2021.  

The report, The Impact of COVID-19 on Small Rental Property Management: Insights from a Chicago Case Study, details the experiences of small-building and owner-occupant landlords in Chicago and their responses to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report’s findings suggest that in response to financial losses and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, some SRP landlords are adopting more risk-averse styles of property management that could reduce the affordability and accessibility of housing in this sector.   

In early 2023 I will initiate a second round of interviews with local rental property owners and rental industry representatives. The second round of interviews will target a broader range of respondents (including mid to large-scale owners and corporate property managers) and focus on whether and how the expiration of many COVID-era tenant protections (i.e., eviction moratoria) and new inflationary fiscal pressures are shifting owners’ approaches to property management.