Tips for Landlords During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically shifted the world and the way we live our everyday lives. Due to government-mandated shutdowns to slow the spread of the virus, many people have lost their jobs. Now, in addition to job loss, the $600 weekly unemployment stimulus provided to people for the past several months is coming to an end, while Congress grapples with how to replace it.
The CARES Act also established a federal eviction moratorium, but now that’s come to an end, for the time being, leaving around 40% of renters in America at risk of losing their homes.
Eviction notices can now legally go forward, but as a landlord, you probably realize the situation isn’t cut and dry.
What can you do as a landlord to help your renters, even if you’re worried about how to pay your own bills?
Know Local Regulations
If you’re a landlord, you may already be aware of what your local regulations are under normal circumstances as far as evictions, but they’ve likely changed in recent months.
In California, for example, more than 80 local governments have put temporary holds on evictions beyond what the federal government had in place.
Your state or city should have information on their website.
With that being said, even if you can evict a tenant that doesn’t necessarily mean you should for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that it could be nearly impossible to find a new renter right now.
Regardless of the specifics of your situation, empower yourself with knowledge as a landlord during this time.
Communicate Transparently with Tenants
Many tenants are facing serious stress and uncertainty right now, and the idea of being evicted is only going to add to that.
Of course, they may not be thinking that as a landlord, you’re facing the same things.
Try to communicate as much as you can with your tenants now and as long as we’re in the pandemic.
Let your tenants know what you’re thinking, what your plans are, and also let them know they aren’t alone during this time.
If you have several tenants or more, consider communicating by setting up an online portal.
If a tenant is telling you they can’t pay your rent, you may need to verify what they’re saying. This can be uncomfortable, but if a tenant is simply nervous about the future but still has their job, then they have a responsibility to pay their rent.
By verifying information, you will send a message to your tenants that while you’re willing to work with them, you also take rent collection seriously. There has to be a balance between compassion and potentially being taken advantage of.
There may be local laws dictating what you can and can’t ask of tenants right now, so again, you’ll need to check in on local laws and regulations.
Work with Your Tenants
If your tenants truly are facing financial challenges, the best thing you can do is work with them.
You might talk to them about partial payments, for example. One option would be to prorate how much they owe over a certain period and then add that to their monthly rent when things normalize.
If your city allows it, you may be able to work out some other type of payment plan as well. In some cities in the U.S., you can ask tenants to sign payment plans, so you’ll have to check that first.
Talk to Your Lender
Finally, if your tenants are having financial problems, then you as a landlord may be as well. Just as there has been relief for your tenants, your lender may be willing to work with you during this time.
Contact your lender, and when you do, be prepared to show them how much rent you’re losing and also outline your monthly expenses.
If you’re honest and proactive, they’re more likely to work with you to lower monthly payments or help you find another solution to avoid default.
Written by Ashley Sutphin for www.RealtyTimes.com Copyright © 2020 Realty Times All Rights Reserved.