COVID-19 is the new challenge we’re all facing that no one had anticipated. With cities being locked down and curfews imposed, millions of people now have to work from home. But some jobs depend heavily on human contact and interaction and one of those jobs is the management of rental properties.
Owning a rental property involves meeting up with renters to collect rent or hiring workers to fix any problems. It also involves routine maintenance, making renovations after a lease has finished, and hiring cleaners for a thorough clean before new renters come in. For some people, rental properties are a means to earn some extra income but, for many others, it’s their job and they could have several properties to juggle and over-see.
With the emergence of COVID-19, it’s nearly impossible to continue looking after your property in the same way you did pre-coronavirus. You need to change your method of management to suit the current circumstances. Some of these circumstances may extend for the remainder of 2020. Restrictions are likely to be lifted little by little, but other aspects of COVID-19 might continue, such as handwashing and social distancing or even isolation.
For these reasons, rental property owners need to be efficient and take practical steps to manage their property during this global health crisis. We’re here to share some of those ways.
This is a time to consider making changes to your renting strategy. For instance, if you’ve never hired a property management company, this is the time to consider doing so. This is encouraged because laws are changing for landlords and tenants during this crucial time.
In Virginia, for example, as a property owner, you might not be aware that you cannot evict a tenant before April 26, 2020. There are also several other new regulations implemented between landlords and tenants in the state of Virginia. We’ve been informed by the author behind Fairfax Residential Property Management From a Trusted Local Leader, that regulations are changing during COVID-19 and we might not be able to keep up with new laws concerning rentals. This is when a property management company is very helpful. They can keep you informed of changes while managing your property, minimizing your costs, and maximizing your profits.
There are two types of repairs: essential and non-essential. Essential repairs are repairs on things that could be a health or safety hazard. These include major electrical repairs, gas supply leaks, fire hazards, or severe drainage problems. These are urgent repairs that need to be done for the safety of the tenant and the property. Repairs need to be carried out by social distancing. This means that the landlord, workers, or whoever is repairing have to stay at least 6ft. apart from other individuals at the premises.
Another issue that could occur is what to do if a tenant needs urgent repairs but is in self-isolation. Depending on which state you’re in, there are regulations and advice on how to enter a self-isolating household. Keep in mind that you’re responsible for the safety of anyone you bring in to make repairs, so you need to inform the proper authorities of this and follow their instructions on what to do and how to do it.
All unessential repairs should be documented. Keep in touch with your tenant by phone or email and make sure you get a documented text of what the needed repairs are.
Despite all the difficult circumstances that everyone is living in, you still need to collect rent. Since it’s possible that the orders and recommendations to stay home and practice social distancing when outdoors might continue until sometime in June and perhaps longer, collecting rent must be simplified. This isn’t the time to go knocking on doors to collect rent.
Make it easy for your tenants and yourself by having them use bank transfers or other online means. If the tenant has valid reasons for being late on rent, consider those reasons and give renters some leeway in the matter if they can’t pay on time.
Communication with your tenants is more important than ever. Ensure your tenants that you want to assist them by the means available to you. This will build your reputation in being a fair and good landlord for future renters.
This unparalleled situation needs patience and cooperation from everyone. Because COVID-19 has an impact on all of us. It’s expected that we help each other and do our part. If you need assistance in managing your property, this is the optimal time to seek that help.