As the Coronavirus continues to create chaos for all of us, landlords are doing their part to work with their tenants while both struggle with economic hardship and financial uncertainty. During these times we need to continue communicating with one another to find reasonable solutions while understanding that the health, safety and the welfare of the general public are the priority.
Due to COVID-19’s wide-ranging effects, a landlord may get different types of information provided by tenants requesting rent deferment (some due to job loss, some for health reasons, some both). Thus, it is important to develop uniform guidelines in terms of the type of payment arrangements you want to offer to avoid potential fair housing issues.
It begins with being empathetic and tactful. Listening also goes a long way as people are worried, stressed and a lot of times, just want to have their voices heard.
On the bright side, many states may soon be lifting their Stay at Home Orders and so asking a tenant when they anticipate going back to work is a perfectly appropriate question. While continuing to be polite, a discussion as to whether an individual is receiving additional unemployment benefits is also suitable. After all, the purpose of these added benefits was to help pay for vital necessities such as food and rent.
It is important to maintain good records, especially making a log of the attempts to contact a tenant. Just be mindful to make sure to adhere to state social distancing and other guidelines regarding making contact with others.
It is also extremely important that you understand if your properties are affected by any State Emergency Orders or the Federal CARES Act. The latter imposes a temporary moratorium on evictions through July 25, 2020 for any housing receiving federal funds (such as subsidized housing) and for any housing with an underlying mortgage that is federally backed.
The Coronavirus is taking its toll on everyone. For landlords and tenants, communication is key. It should always be done in a respectful manner, but don’t be hesitant to ask questions to gauge an individual’s ability to make payments. Enter into agreements verses verbal arrangements when applicable and make sure you are ready for when the courts re-open to enforce your rights and protect your interests.
If you need assistance or would like to get help from a property management company, Rental Management One is on standby for your call.