4 min read
How to handle rent, property maintenance, and vacancies through the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has caused major problems for tenants and property managers.
On one hand, you want to show compassion. On the other hand, you want to do your job to the best of your abilities. How do you strike that balance?
Here are some commonly asked COVID-19 questions (and answers) to help property managers through this difficult time.
What Should I Do if a Tenant Can't Pay Rent?
First and foremost, you should know all the following suggestions are just that: suggestions. Your situation will differ for a number of reasons (too many to list here).
There’s not a “one size fits all” solution for property managers, mainly because state and local laws vary so much. That being said, please don’t take any of these tips as legal advice.
So, let’s jump into the first question. What should you do if a tenant can’t pay rent?
According to Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jan Hatzius, the U.S. unemployment rate could hit 25% during the COVID-19 pandemic. As businesses try to recover, they’re letting employees go. This means you’ll have tenants who struggle to pay rent.
What do you do? You can start by working on a documented agreement with these tenants.
NOLO gives you three ways to approach payment arrangements:
- Lower rent to an amount that allows you to meet financial obligations for the property.
- Delay payments and spread out the overdue balance.
- Forgive rent in a way that works for you and the tenants. You can agree to revisit the arrangement at a later date.
You should also offer tenants online payment options if you haven’t already. You’ll still have to look out for physical forms of payment like checks, though.
On top of that, there are moratoriums for late fees, shutting off utilities, and evictions depending on where you live. Keep in mind, this information is changing all the time!
What happens if a tenant damages property or causes safety issues? You might not have many options. Some states won’t start handling eviction cases until July, and some courts are only open for emergencies.
This may sound like a generic recommendation, but check with your attorney or local and state government when you feel an eviction is justified. What’s “set in stone” today could be completely different tomorrow.
How Do I Handle Maintenance Requests?
You shouldn’t have a problem taking care of routine outside jobs. But what happens when you need to make repairs or updates inside a tenant’s living space?
Rentec Direct gives you a few ideas for staying on top of property maintenance through the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Set up a system for online maintenance requests.
- Prioritize requests by putting emergencies first.
- Focus on services and repairs that are deemed essential by state and local laws.
- Maintain social distancing during repairs.
- Give your maintenance team personal protective equipment like gloves, face masks, and booties to cover their shoes.
As always, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney to know what maintenance is considered essential. Your insurance company could have recommendations, too. It never hurts to touch base with your agent.
How Do I Fill Vacancies?
Potential tenants might not want to make in-person visits as they search for a new place to live. How do you fill vacancies when some people don’t want to follow the traditional process?
As the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) suggests, you could boost interest in listings by focusing on your online presence with:
- Property walk-through videos.
- 3-D virtual tours.
- More photos of the living space.
- Hosting showings on Facebook Live or Instagram Live.
These are tough, unprecedented times. We understand why you’re busy and have a million things to do.
Still, we encourage you to reach out to your local Pekin Insurance agent. They can tell you more about business insurance that’s customized for apartment complexes, condominium associations, and more.