The world is facing new circumstances amidst the outbreak of COVID-19, and all industries have been affected as a result – including real estate and, by extension, rental properties. The spread of the coronavirus has caused lockdowns throughout the US and across the globe, impacting landlords and tenants alike.
In times of uncertainty such as this, it can be anxiety-inducing to still have to deal with financial responsibilities or know what should be done. This is why New Silver is sharing this information on how to protect your tenants from COVID-19:
The Government’s Steps
The authorities have already started taking steps to curb the spread of the virus. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has released a plan that will stop foreclosures and evictions on single-family homes with loans that fall under the Federal Housing Administration. The HUD has further clarified that this would apply to nearly 8 million properties around the country. Many states are busy launching plans to address the impact on the rest of the real estate market in the coming days, and it is advised that all investors stay on top of the announcement.
One of the measures that will be introduced nationwide will include special unemployment grants as many have lost income or work due to shutdowns. A national survey conducted this week found that the majority of Americans are in favor of some kind of assistance being made available to all, particularly renters.
Needing Immediate Action
If you are a landlord to a tenant who is more at risk than the average person, you will need to take prompt action to ensure they are informed of all recent guidelines set by local government and health organizations. These at-risk individuals include elderly residents and those with underlying health conditions. As a landlord, you will want to suspend any services such as gardening or cleaning, send updated health guidelines to your tenants via email or phone and refer them to any new rules set for the rental property during this time.
If you own a rental property that falls under a board of trustees and has common or shared areas (such as laundry rooms), find out what measures they are planning to implement and update your tenants accordingly. Stay in contact with your tenants and regularly communicate with them to check on their well-being – refrain from personal contact though, and only make use of phone calls or online communication methods.
Needless to say, now is not the time for landlords to visit tenants in person or to carry out property inspections. On top of staying in regular virtual contact with your tenant, you will want to document all of your communication for future insurance or financial record purposes. You will still be responsible for maintaining a property that is safe for tenants in a way that is compliant with your local government COVID-19 guidelines, so make sure everything is up to scratch while maintaining social distance.
Again, be sure to enforce occupancy limits on your rental property to help flatten the curve and discourage the spread of the virus. You will also need to be open with your tenants about the situation and prepare to be more flexible on things like late rental payments.
As a tenant, your responsibility is first and foremost to comply with safety guidelines and stay home as much as possible. Just as the landlord should communicate openly with you about the situation, you should communicate openly and honestly with them in return. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, be upfront with your landlord; under current circumstances, they are likely to be more forgiving or you could potentially qualify for government-run relief initiatives.
Many cities and states across the country have implemented eviction pauses or halted foreclosures so far, and others are likely to follow. Housing Justice for all, a coalition of tenant’s rights advocates, has also called for a statewide freeze on rental payments and utilities – tenants should stay up to date on the latest news to know if this is put into practice and if they qualify.
These are difficult times for the real estate industry, and government, landlords, and renters altogether will have to play their parts until things improve. Take solace in the fact that many people across the world are in this with you, and you can make use of the virtual world to connect.
Landlords should ultimately take action to protect at-risk tenants, remain in communication with them and prepare to be flexible until things calm down. Tenants should follow government guidelines, remain indoors and be open with their landlords about their financial situation. If everyone complies with the set guidelines, it will be a safer world for all.