(CBS News) — A landlord in Maine says he won’t collect rent from his tenants because of the coronavirus outbreak has put his tenants in a financial pinch. Nathan Nichols, who owns two units in South Portland, urged other landlords to give their tenants rent relief as the U.S. grapples with the deadly virus.
Many U.S. cities over the last week have imposed shutdowns of businesses to slow the spreading of the coronavirus. Nichols wrote a Facebook post on Friday about giving his tenants a break for the month of April because they will be impacted by the severe measures taken to curb the spread of the virus.
“COVID19 is going to cause serious financial hardship for service and hourly workers around the country,” Nichols said. “I own a two unit in South Portland and all of my tenants are in this category.”
“Because I have the good fortune and of being able to afford it and the privilege of being in the owner class, I just let them know I would not be collecting rent in April. I ask any other landlords out there to take a serious look at your own situation and consider giving your tenants some rent relief as well,” he added.
The post has more than 15,000 shares. Nichols was praised for his decision online and positive comments flooded his initial post.
“That is very honorable of you, I hope other owners follow in your footsteps,” one commenter said. “Things are going to get very bad for many people.”
“That’s amazing! God bless you sir! Wish all landlords would consider this for april,” another said.
However, for some landlords – the option isn’t as simple, he noted. Nichols had a message for them in a separate post. “Of more than 500 comments, almost all of them are words of thanks or praise for the kindness of my act,” he said. “Every so often, however, there is a comment from a landlord who would like to help their tenants, but simply can’t, or from a tenant who wishes their landlord would help them, but doubts they will.”
“To these people, I say: I don’t know your situation and I don’t want to imply that a landlord who isn’t forgoing rent is somehow a bad person,” he said.
CBS News reached out to Nichols for further comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Calls for tenant relief have gained steam all over the country. A group of some of the largest landlords in New York City will halt evictions for a three-month period, according to Crain’s New York Business. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a moratorium on evictions for renters and asked city attorneys to looked into stopping commercial evictions.
More than 3,700 people have tested positive for the new COVID-19 disease in the U.S. and at least 69 have died.