With social distancing the new catchphrase that defines how we should interact, how do property managers get closer to their tenants during the COVID-19 crisis?
The property management experts at Utopia Management would like to share a few insights to help property managers navigate this Brave New World.
COVID-19 and Property Management in California
Emerging on the global scene toward the end of 2019, the new strain of Coronavirus has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to label the outbreak as a pandemic.
Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, which has caused late housing payments or no payments at all on rent and mortgages.
Stricter policies such as shelter in place have limited the mobility of a once highly mobile nation.
The new rental landscape is daunting for property managers, but you can navigate the turmoil by taking a deep breath before you follow state guidelines and several helpful tips that should help you retain tenants.
Governor Newsome Issues Executive Order
The Governor of California, Gavin Newsome, issued an executive order that covered a large number of topics associated with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Within the executive order, Governor Newsome clearly gives local governments the legal power to place moratoriums on tenant evictions.
According to the executive order, local ordinances should make it clear that if a tenant is unable to pay rent on time, landlords and property managers should defer rental payments for a “reasonable period.”
The executive order does not allow tenants to receive a waiver for rental payments.
Numerous municipalities in California have adopted rental relief ordinances during the Coronavirus outbreak, including a large number of communities in greater Los Angeles.
The California Apartment Association publishes a frequently updated list of cities that have established eviction moratoriums.
Utopia Management also can help you learn more about the COVID-19 changes to California landlord-tenant relationship statutes.
Notice of Exposure
The primary focus for property managers during the Coronavirus pandemic concerns collecting rental income from tenants.
However, there are several other obstacles for landlords to hurdle that involve issues associated with COVID-19.
Although property managers are not obligated by law to inform tenants of positive COVID-19 cases in a building they manage, there remains uncertainty as to future laws that address property manager liability.
We recommend staying proactive by updating your tenants about new cases diagnosing the presence of COVID-19. Make sure not to name the tenant or tenants that have contracted the virus.
Strategies to Help Tenants Cope with Economic Loss
As a property manager, one of your most important objectives is to attract long term tenants. A revolving rental door can lead to erratic rental income, as well as an unsettled base of tenants.
During the fight to beat the Coronavirus, you should take steps to help your tenants cope with the economic loss caused by unemployment and the disruption of business services.
Here are a few ideas to alleviate the pressure of economic loss during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Reduce rental rate for a designated period, such as a 25% decrease in rent for the next six months
- Give tenants affected by the Coronavirus a few months rent-free
- Add months to the back end of leases to account for missed rent payments
There has to be a cause and effect relationship for any type of rental agreement changes.
Tenants must present documentation that confirms how the COVID-19 pandemic has made a negative economic impact on their lives.
Other Helpful Tips for Landlords and Property Managers
Unless you have a crystal ball, chances are your rental agreements do not include a clause that addresses how to operate during a pandemic.
You and your tenants understand what happens after a bad storm, as well as how to proceed after a fire at the complex.
However, nothing in a lease discusses the arrangements to be made after an outbreak like the Coronavirus pandemic.
We suggest several tips to help property managers deal with a viral outbreak.
- Use the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CD) as the top resource for fighting a pandemic
- Frequently sanitize public areas, such as the office and lobby
- Install sanitizer stations in high-traffic areas of the complex
- Educate tenants about the importance of cleaning and maintaining sanitized living environments
- Offer educational materials to tenants in several languages that discuss viral transmission prevention tips like hand washing
- Make sure employees that are sick stay home from work
- Cancel any events that will attract large groups of people
- Review your property’s emergency preparedness plan to ensure it is up to date
Despite the focus paid to COVID-19, the fact remains property managers still have to deal with more common issues.
The weather will not take a break until the pandemic subsides. Violent spring storms and long-lasting heat waves will still be a part of your consideration as a property manager.
In fact, weather-related events can exacerbate the already difficult Coronavirus climate.
Now is also a good time to take care of lingering maintenance issues. Your tenants want to see you in control of a difficult situation.
Use a brighter color to paint your building and clean walkways to present an enhanced appearance for your property.
In addition, visit Newtrals.com to stay updated on the latest news that concerns the COVID-19 pandemic.