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Talking to Your Tenants About COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of people to face countless physical, social, and financial hardships. Many residents have already been unable to make timely rental payments. CNBC found that 30% of Americans missed their housing payments in June due to the virus.

So what are property owners and property management firms to do to minimize financial losses?

Even though we’re now months into this situation, continued communication can help reduce risk and the spread of the virus around your properties.

Keep your tenant communication plans updated

Prepare your Covid related communications in advance and have them reviewed by your legal counsel. These could include announcements of potential exposure by someone in the building who has tested positive, or rent policy changes. If you have these always up to date, it will be less of a scramble when or if something happens.

Keep in mind that the policies about waivers, privacy, and payments are changing almost every day, so communication with your local agencies and legal teams is just as important as the communication you’re passing down!

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LEARN HOW: Tenant Communication Tips

Make Safety a Top Priority

Large rental properties may have hundreds, if not thousands, of residents living in a community. Infection spread has the potential to wreak havoc. To limit the spread of the virus, as well as reduce liability, property managers must proactively communicate information regularly to their tenants using the latest state, local and CDC guidelines.

Residents should be continually informed about any changes to:

  • Your updated cleaning and sanitization practices if applicable
  • What to do if they become infected or show symptoms, including any required disclosures
  • Precautions to take to minimize the spread of the virus, including safety practices such as washing hands
  • Any self-certification or reporting policies
  • Your mask/face covering policies, and any enforcement or penalties for non-compliance
  • Social distancing policies in common areas
  • Cancelled or postponed events
  • Changes to maintenance procedures, such as if you’ve moved to emergency only
  • Community guidelines about common areas such as fitness centers, clubhouses and pools

Each of these communications should be made via multiple channels including posted placards, website or portal, email and text message to ensure the most tenants both receive and understand the policies.

Because some residents may not want to come into the office or have face to face discussions, mobile technology is especially helpful now.

Addressing Rental Payments

Although August’s payment statuses for multi-family units are better than July’s, a significant percent of rents are in partial, late pays and non-payment status. Many states and municipalities have adopted regulations aimed at helping tenants who encounter financial hardships. Property owners and managers should create and communicate plans that address rental payments issues due to COVID, taking into account current regulations. 

If tenants are unable to make payments, communication is the best means of moving forward. First, understand and stay up to date on the regulations that impact your area. For large property management firms, this could be different by jurisdiction. You should consult your legal counsel and your tax professionals, but here are some guidelines to consider as you plan for more defaults. 

  • Proactively asking tenants if COVID has financially impacted them
  • Providing resources from your state or local government about available assistance programs
  • Develop alternative rental payment arrangements such as deferment or rent reductions
  • Document plans in writing that detail future repayment plans

Instead of taking a blanket approach, create individualized payment solutions for each impacted tenant. Document them all  Failure to create mitigation plans that abide by current guidelines can result in tenant turnover and potential lawsuits.  

The pandemic has created hardships for people in all walks of life. 

ResiDesk provides seamless technology that encourages quick and convenient interactions. The platform allows property management teams to communicate with residents by integrating them with current property management software. 

For more information about how ResiDesk can help manage and communicate with tenants throughout the pandemic, please visit us at TheResiDesk.com.