How to Be a Good Landlord in a Global Emergency
We are still in the middle of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, even as states consider opening back up and residents across the country continue to feel impatient and anxious. It’s an active and ongoing disaster, and it has probably left you thinking about how you should be managing your investment properties and the tenants who live in them.
During a crisis like this, it’s more important than ever to have reliable, up-to-date information. We’re here to tell you what we know about being a good landlord, and why you should use this as an opportunity to set yourself apart from your competition.
We know that like all of us, you’re facing a lot of uncertainties and doubt. We’re here to support you as a landlord and an investor during good times and bad. When a global emergency arises, Overland Management is here for you with information, tools, and resources.
Let’s talk about how to be a good landlord. You should remember that even though things seem terrible and uncertain right now – it will not last forever. Things will be back to normal at some point, and all of your current and potential tenants will remember how you treated them and what you did during this pandemic.
Communicate Consistently and Openly with Tenants
Communication is something you should be doing well already. It takes on a new urgency during an emergency. You should be in touch with all of your tenants on a regular basis. Be available and responsive when they reach out to you. If you haven’t heard from a renter, give them a call or send them an email. Good landlords talking about plans and options and working with their residents on solutions that serve both you and your tenants now and in the future.
If you’re self-managing your rental property, you should be in touch with all your renters. Those residents are feeling all the same anxieties and stresses that you are. With more than 30 million Americans unemployed during this crisis, a lot of your tenants may have lost their jobs. They might have had their hours or their salaries cut back.
Instead of waiting for them to call you, make a point of reaching out to them. If they’re not going to be able to pay their rent this month or next, you want to know now so you can make plans. And, before you even ask them about their financial status or their plans for rent payments – make sure they’re okay. Asking about their health and the health of their loved ones will go a long way.
Show Flexibility in Plans for Rental Payments
During any emergency, you first want to make sure your tenants are okay. Once you’ve established they’re safe, you can talk about realistic plans for rent payments. If they are completely without income or waiting for unemployment benefits, they may be able to pay only a portion of the rent or maybe none at all. There are a few things you can do. Structure your due dates a little differently or put together a payment plan that works for everyone. Find some solutions and compromises that will leave your tenants feeling like you’re inviting a conversation and not making a demand.
It’s a good time to talk about things like non-emergency maintenance requests, too. You might want to wait until the risk of exposure is lower to send in maintenance professionals, but encourage your tenants to continue making repair requests when they notice something isn’t working. You don’t want to let unreported and deferred maintenance issues get backed up.
Many states and local governments have implemented a moratorium on evictions, and if your property is backed by a federal mortgage program, you can’t evict your tenants for nonpayment of rent. It’s important that you know the laws as they pertain to your particular property.
Your tenants will potentially be emotional. As a good landlord, it’s your job to keep a level head and to communicate openly, even if you’re emotional too. Respond to every phone call, text message, and email.
Thinking about Tenant Retention is Important
With any emergency, you have to think past the present and consider the future.
We don’t know what the rental market is going to look like after COVID-19. As a landlord, you may be facing lower rental values and an absence of new tenants looking for homes. This is a very good reason to give your current tenants an incentive to stay in your property. If the real estate market suffers, finding new tenants who can pay the rent you’re currently charging will potentially be a challenge.
Evicting your tenants who are behind in rental payments as soon as the moratorium is lifted is one way to get back to the normal business operations that you’ve followed for years, but it might not put you in a stronger financial position. In fact, it could hurt your business. New tenants will not be in a hurry to rent from a landlord who was quick to evict renters during an emergency.
Your reputation is more important than this month’s rent. The recovery period will be long, and the decisions you make will continue to impact your business long after this global emergency is over. Think about what you want your tenants to say about you. You’ll want them to say you were a good landlord; that you were supportive, compassionate, and easy to talk to.
We can help you, whether you’re struggling with rent collection or communication with your tenants. Contact us at Overland Management, and please keep yourself and your family safe!