Coronavirus Updates

5 Ways to Be a Great Landlord During the Coronavirus Crisis

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Coronavirus Yoga at home sign lightbox with text hashtag #STAYHOME glowing in light with exercise mat, cork blocks, strap meditation pillows. COVID-19 banner to promote self isolation staying at home.

Apartment owners today are finding themselves in a situation like no other they have ever faced before. The profound effects of the coronavirus are not only challenging their property’s daily operations but also upending their tenants’ lives.

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In the past, we have supported tenants by providing a safe and enjoyable community to call home. But in this case, that might not be enough. Since most complexes have had to close all of their community amenities, it is important to provide as much value as you can. Going the extra mile to help your community through these difficult times is not just the right thing to do. It translates to better business, as well.

Here are several ways an apartment owner can be a resource to their tenants during the coronavirus outbreak.

Directory for Assistance Programs

With such a massive global event, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there. While most landlords will share resources that help tenants pay rent, the hardships that most are facing today extend past financial problems.

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Distribute resources that can help tenants on multiple fronts. For example, communicate where tenants can turn for assistance with obtaining food, making rent, seeking healthcare, etc. This will have a greater overall impact.

One resource that covers multiple fronts is www.FindHelp.org. By simply putting in your zip code, the site will display over 1,000 programs that are currently providing assistance in all of the aforementioned areas and more (like employment).

Related: Landlord Emergency Preparedness 101: What Real Estate Investors Should Do Before Disaster Strikes

Resources for Children

Across the country, there are over 124,000 schools closed, affecting over 55 million students. Coupled with the fact that currently 38 states and counting (over 297 million people) have “stay-at-home” orders, day-to-day living is anything but normal.

Many Americans are having to pull double duty, working from home while babysitting and teaching their children. Sharing things like educational webinars may provide some relief for parents who are already struggling to find balance.

There are thousands of online resources that anyone can Google; however, distributing a list to tenants shows you care and takes one thing off a parent’s already-full plate. Here are just a few resources that you can share:

Leveraging Power in Numbers

If you have several rentals located in close proximity—or even better, one large community—you can contact a local restaurant and see if they will offer a discount to your tenants one day a week with a coupon code when they call to place the order.

Then, let your residents know that if they order from that particular place, they will receive $5 off their order (or whatever the special ends up being). This not only supports your residents, but it also helps out the local restaurants (many of which are struggling, too).

Distancing, Together

No matter what remediation steps you take, there are going to be people who can no longer afford rent. When calling to check on your residents, anyone experiencing financial difficulties should be added to a running list. When all other payment options have been exhausted, you may want to ask if they would be interested in moving in with someone else in the community.

It is possible that they may even know the other person already, making for an easy transition. This could obviously be a touchy subject due to the nature of the pandemic, though, so you would want to take every possible precaution to make sure both residents are healthy and able to move.

In the end, playing matchmaker will help your tenants avoid a future eviction, and one vacant unit is better than two for you.

Listen

Although listed last, don’t underestimate the power of listening right now. During difficult times, people like to have their opinions heard.

Consider that the pandemic has most people cooped up in their house with little social interaction. Just listening may be the best support that you can provide.

Make sure that you, or your property management team, calls everyone—weekly, if possible. I know this sounds like a lot, but doing the right thing is not always easy. And let’s be honest, you did not get into owning an apartment or rental properties because it was easy.

Related: Dear Tenants—I’m Sending This Letter to My Tenants Today

Key Takeaways

There is no way around it. This is a difficult time for tenants and landlords alike. Sometimes the best we can do is try to soften the blow and make the best out of a less-than-optimal situation.

By doing everything you can to help your tenants through this instead of solely focusing on your bottom line, you are solidifying a community that will hopefully be even stronger than before this crisis.

The best lessons are always learned through adversity, so try and take this opportunity to make yourself a better operator, a better investor, and above all a better person.

What innovative ways are you utilizing or have you heard/read about in terms of managing tenants amid the coronavirus crisis?

Weigh in with a comment below.

Ashley Wilson, co-founder of HouseItLook LLC and Bar Down Investments LLC, started investing in real estate in 2010 with a single rental property. HouseItLook, located in the suburbs of Philadelphi...
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    Terry Lowe
    Replied 5 months ago
    Such a great post! A very good reminder that we are all in this together. I hope all our tenants are now receiving unemployment checks plus an extra $600. per week. For my units which rent from $1000.- $1900., just the extra $600. extra should pay the rent. That leaves 55% of their regular wages for food and some other bills etc. This doesn’t cover all expenses, but hopefully it will pay for the essentials.
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 5 months ago
    Thank you for reading!
    Matt Rachow Investor
    Replied 5 months ago
    This is a great post..Very helpful. Thanks.
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 5 months ago
    Thank you!
    Tem Nyasulu from Sandton, Gauteng
    Replied 5 months ago
    Amazing post. Thank you very much!
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 5 months ago
    Thank you!
    Alan Brown Rental Property Investor from NY MA CT VT MT, MO
    Replied 5 months ago
    Thanks Ashley, really great ideas. I especially love the Findhelp website... will pass this stuff on for sure. Unfortunately, I can't be sure my Property managers are doing what I would do when I managed my own. I would call the tenants myself, but my cellphone is my only phone and caller ID is everywhere! One of the main reasons I have fully switched to 3rd part managers is so that i don't get calls at odd hours and don't have to respond to myriad little issues in general. And I feel lucky to finally have managers I don't hate, so I am very careful not to be too pushy and risk having them quit on me! I will gently nudge them to keep offering help and really "listening" (so important). I heard someone on a news show say the other day, "my landlord is like, incredibly awesome, and has been asking regularly if he can help us. I feel so lucky to have him" !!! As someone who likes to be liked, that rang my bells! I liked being that guy when I managed my own. It's also a phenomenal business move as well, because I've found that kind of treatment breeds loyalty from tenants, which can translate into, if nothing else, them leaving the place a little cleaner when they go! Thanks for the info!