The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to normal life, disturbing the way we used to live, and the way we conduct our businesses. These times are challenging particularly for landlords who are moving heaven and Earth to keep their properties and tenants safe from the virus. Many businesses have either temporarily shut down or have gone online to curb the spread of the virus. Important life events have been postponed and the entire world has come to a standstill.
The insufficiency in operations hasn’t however stopped for landlords as their properties will need plenty of assistance from maintenance to repairs and regular housekeeping. Property management, on its own, has become a daunting task. At OwnersTown, we’ve come up with several Property Management tips that can help you manage your rental properties effectively as the COVID-19 rages on.
Tips To Be Better At Property Management During The COVID-19 Crisis
It is necessary to practice social distancing to prevent infection and this makes tenant communication difficult. You will need to cut down on physical interactions with your tenants and switch to virtual interactions. Depend on phone calls and messaging platforms to converse with your tenants and if necessary, use video calls. If you need to address more than one tenant, think of a Smart Property Management Application that can help you to contact everyone simultaneously.
The popular blog, Psychology Today, states that video calling could be comforting to your tenants as they will get to see a familiar face and also that it’s more effective than voice calls, especially if you have older tenants. So, look into Zoom Duo, FaceTime, or even WhatsApp and connect with your tenants over video calls to address them of any updates or to simply check in on them.
Try Virtual Building Inspections
If you have an inspection coming up or if one of your tenants raises a maintenance ticket that will need an inspection, consider doing a virtual inspection. Firstly, ask your tenants to send photos via WhatsApp or email so that you can share it with your contractor.
If you feel closer, real-time inspection is needed, use Zoom or Google Duo to organize a video call so that your tenants can show the affected or unaffected areas for you and your contractor to observe. With video calling, your contractor can also enquire about things that may arise during the inspection.
Show Mutual Understanding in Rent Collections
A majority of tenants – in most cities and towns – still pay rent by cash. This entails physical collection of rent which you must at all costs avoid. Suggest your tenants move to a digital form of payment to prevent both of you from getting sick. Be it internet banking or digital wallets, the options to pay rent are endless. Ask your tenant to transfer their monthly rent via net banking or popular digital wallets such as PayTM or Google Pay or PhonePe to your preferred bank account.
If your tenant is employed, ask them about the current situation of their salary. A good number of companies have either terminated or furloughed non-essential employees and cut salaries for the rest. So, if your tenant has had a pay cut or been furloughed or terminated, it will be difficult for them to pay the rent as they normally would.
If a tenant is unable to pay the rent, discuss the situation with them and offer a discounted rent or think about a more flexible payment option. But, remember to not step in blindly as some tenants may make use of your good nature. Always insist on documentation that shows that they are receiving a pay cut or have been terminated. This way, you can help the ones who are really in need. Come up with a payment plan and agreement that your tenant can adhere to and enforce it until the pandemic has ended and their financial situation has improved.
Avoid Major Maintenance Works
Handling maintenance and service requests at your rentals will be near to impossible given the enforced policies of isolation and social distancing. Arranging for a service vendor comes with more caution as you have to ensure that the vendor is in good health, is wearing protective gear and, has all the required equipment and material so as to prevent visits to the hardware store while working in your rental property.
Get in touch with your contractors and ensure that their professionals are being tested daily and that they are in good health and have protective gear such as masks and gloves. With OwnersTown, you can find the right vendor from your mobile itself. Get a verified vendor with the best deal at any location.
You should also inform your tenants that there will be a delay in handling maintenance tasks as you need to handle only the essential tasks first. Paint jobs or renovations can be pushed to a date after the epidemic has ended while emergency tasks such as plumbing or electrical work can be done now.
Remember to practice empathy while communicating with your tenants on the postponement of the maintenance work. Your main goal is to keep your properties running smoothly. So, choose only the important tasks to work on and keep the rest in a backlog that you can get to when the lockdowns have been lifted and the pandemic has ended.
Close Down Common Area Amenities And Sanitise
Swimming pools, gyms, pantries, cafes, and other common areas need to be shut down to prevent the spread of the virus throughout your properties. Sanitise other common spaces that are a necessity, such as lobbies, stairwells, and elevators. Have a maintenance staff disinfect your properties daily and ensure that they are in good health and are wearing the right gear. Keep a copy of the WHO guidelines on how to use and dispose of the masks and gloves and ensure that they are done properly.
The pandemic has created both the worst and the best time for you as a landlord. Your actions and decisions during this time will determine your personality as either a helpful and smart landlord or an absentee landlord. It’s essential to keep all of your rental properties and your tenants in safe hands. Remember that even if one infected person enters your property, the whole building will have to be shut down and the tenants quarantined until it’s determined by medical professionals to be safe again.
By letting your tenants understand that you are there for them, you will create a better relationship with them and emerge from this situation stronger than before.
Stay Home Stay Safe!