The shutdown of large parts of the US economy had left 36.5 million Americans unemployed, as of May 14, 2020. In September, the number of unemployed people, who have been jobless for less than 5 weeks, touched 2.6 million, while the number of long-term unemployed people reached 2.4 million, according to figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Owing to these figures, landlords have been facing rent deferral or withheld requests. In a study conducted on 13.4 million housing units nationwide, it was found that 31% tenants had failed to pay rent.
The situation could last for another several months, making it difficult for landlords to make the most of their rental properties. This is particularly disastrous for those who solely depend on rent checks for their expenses. As a landlord, consider navigating best practices to keep yourself safe, have the building utilities running and ensure well-being of your tenants too. Here are a few ways to stay afloat even during these unprecedented times.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Establish active communication to address their concerns on time. This could be mutually advantageous too. You can implement certain new protocols amid the pandemic. For example, try to convince the tenants that pausing rents will only disrupt the entire financial ecosystem. They are not only making the landlord suffer but creating a bigger economic discomfort. In May 2020, 15% Americans said they can pay partial rent, which could be a good deal at present. Therefore, while you fulfill your responsibilities, request your tenants to commit to a certain payment every month.
Hire a Property Manager
A property manager helps maintain a safe distance between you and your tenants. They ensure efficient rent collection and improve the value of your property, in case your current tenants vacate. They can reduce additional stress during the pandemic, ensuring that your rental space is regularly disinfected to prevent the spread of the virus. Landlords are allowed to charge late fees but cannot evict tenants who do not pay at present; any violation of this rule can lead to jail or monetary penalties of $100,000, according to an article on The Conversation. Keeping this CDC order in mind, property managers can act accordingly to manage monthly rents for you.
Perform Emergency Repair Work Only
Until the pandemic situation is well under control, suspend non-essential activities, like painting or flooring. Emergency repairs, such as fixing leaking pipes and roofs, power outage, fire or smoke damage or growing mold, should however be taken care of, according to an article on RealWealth Foundation. Pay special attention to disinfecting the exteriors, like the driveway, walkway, handrails and staircases. Make sure to cleanse the lawn benches and parking areas too. Conduct such disinfecting on a timely basis to avoid complaints or losing out on tenants.
Understand Landlord Rights
As a landlord, identify the tenants who are simply taking advantage of the situation. You have the right to verify salary status, in case they are negotiating on the rent. If you smell something fishy, don’t hesitate to approach them directly. Tenants cannot expect rent cuts without cooperating with their landlords. In case of self-eviction, they should be able to fulfill a specified notice period to help you fill the vacancy without incurring losses. Make sure to communicate and take the necessary steps to avoid trouble in future.
The unemployment rate spiked to 14.7% in April 2020, which highly impacted the labor market growth. Experts have already declared that the pandemic might continue till 2022, until the entire world becomes immune. Try to consider certain percentage of rent relief, tweak policies to run your business smoothly and create a contingency plan to weather the current storm.