The Covid-19 has had tremendous effects on business operations. Restrictions have affected cash flow, and safety protocols have made it inevitable for firms to adjust how they deliver services. Even with the emergence of vaccines, some business strategies may remain forever changed.
Residential property management has been a core issue during this unthinkable pandemic. With incomes dwindling for most people, honoring rent obligations has been a challenge. Health safety in residential buildings has also been a major concern. Which brings us to the question, as a property management firm, how do you handle these challenges on behalf of your client?
Here are a few ways you could adapt your property management approach to the times.
A survey on households established that as of July of 2020, millions of Americans were not able to meet their rent or mortgage obligations on time. They also had no certainty on whether things would get any better in the months thereafter. This is just one sample of how tenants around the world found themselves facing homelessness in a pandemic.
Rent collection is within your purview as a property manager. When tenants cannot pay, a notice of eviction is often naturally the next step to take. However, perhaps there is a need to make special considerations during such dire times. For instance, advising your client to lower rental rates for a short period may be more financially sound than facing a mass exodus of tenants.
Other rent solutions could include:
- A contractual payment plan for long-standing tenants with a good rent payment history.
- Waiving or reducing some charges for a set duration
When managing a property, it is incumbent upon you to ensure that the building is compliant with health safety codes. These include proper plumbing and hygiene protocols, among other stipulations. Now, in the face of a highly contagious disease, health vigilance is more imperative than ever.
It would help if you raised the bar on how your firm handles health safety protocols in properties under your care. While it is not possible to fully police tenants in their homes, you could put in place strict rules for shared spaces such as:
- Social distancing in the gym and common laundry facilities as well as rigorous sanitization protocols of the same.
- Requiring all guests and tenants to use sanitizer installed at entry points
- Asking tenants to adhere to face mask protocols, Including safe disposal.
Ordinarily, the health of your tenants would not be a direct concern of a property management firm. However, in these incomparable times, just one infection could spread and have your building locked down or shunned by potential tenants. It, therefore, behooves you to be more invested in preventing the spread of the virus.
Shelter-in-place orders and ‘work from home’ policies have changed how tenants use their homes. More people are spending more time at home and are thus in need of recreational spaces. Playgrounds and gardens are priceless treasures in these times.
Resources may be scarce, but if possible, consider maintaining or sprucing up such amenities in properties that you run. Most tenants have undoubtedly been weighing the idea of downsizing, but such value aspects could keep them around for much longer.
If there is a garden space on the property, keep it manicured and well-cared for so that tenants have a place to get some fresh air. Water features like a pool may not be safe during this period, but they are certainly worth maintaining if you have others like ponds. As opposed to outsourcing maintenance, consider buying pond maintenance tools for the groundsmen from trusted brands like Mountain Tree. This would significantly reduce costs.
Due to health safety concerns, tenants may be apprehensive about allowing repairers into their apartments to address faults. Granted, this is a legitimate concern, but it is equally dangerous. When faults, such as those involving electricity, are not attended to in time, they pose a risk not just to an individual apartment but the entire building.
It would be best to establish maintenance and repair protocols in harmony with tenants in the residential buildings you are charged with. Advice them, for instance, to report faults promptly to the building manager for assessment. This will enable urgent issues to be addressed swiftly with maintenance specialists observing health safety precautions.
Tax and Mortgage Relief
In some jurisdictions, governments have made an effort to provide tax and mortgage relief to landlords. These measures are aimed at cushioning property owners from diminished rental incomes. They are also meant to encourage landlords to provide some rent relief to tenants.
As you reconfigure your property management policies during Covid-19, it would be important that you factor in such provisions. More so because, depending on which of them your clients are eligible for, they will affect how you file property taxes on their behalf in 2021. Plus, it would be woeful for both the tenants and your landlord clients to miss out on such reliefs that could benefit all parties.
‘Residential properties’ is only a technical reference for homes. Therefore, every eviction notice or lease agreement is tied to a mother, a son, or a grandad. This is worth keeping in mind as you tackle property management issues on behalf of your clients during this pandemic. Rigidity and property rules cast in stone may not be tenable. Empathy, negotiation, and new approaches may yield better results.