2020 has been a hard year for everybody. It’s been especially challenging for owners of rental properties, many of whom have seen their incomes evaporate as tenants are unable to pay rent.
Under normal circumstances, a tenant who doesn’t pay rent would be a prime candidate for eviction. But these aren’t normal circumstances, and handling late rent payments during COVID-19 requires a different approach.
How to handle late rent payments for Rental Properties During COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and as the laws and rules surrounding it continue to change, one of your most important jobs is to keep up with the latest developments. Owners of rental properties must stay informed not only to better serve their tenants, but also for their own wellbeing.
Work with tenants
It’s important to work with tenants as much as possible during this challenging time. Not only are there moratoriums on evictions across most of the nation – including in Washington State – but it’s in your best interest to be flexible too. As hard as it may be to get by with reduced rental income, consider the challenges of marketing your property and trying to find a new renter during a pandemic.
Treat each case as unique
Each of your renters is being affected by the pandemic in a different way. So as long as moratoriums on evictions are still in effect—and in Washington State they are, at least through December 31—then you may need to accept late or partial rent payments. Just remember to treat each case as unique. If a tenant asks for help, start from a place of compassion by asking them how the pandemic has affected them.
Get something in writing
If a tenant can’t pay rent in accordance with their lease due to COVID-19, you’ll have to work with them to reach a new arrangement. Whatever you decide upon, make sure you put it in writing and ask the individual to sign it. Include new temporary lease terms, and stipulate what you expect to be paid and when, from now until the tenant resumes their normal work situation.
Find out the whole story
Not everyone has been impacted as severely by COVID-19. Many of your tenants will have returned to work by now. Many others may have received unemployment, or never lost work at all. It’s important that you get the full story from everyone to ascertain their ability to pay rent. This will help you create a more compassionate approach for those who need a hand, and avoid being taken advantage of by those who don’t.
Communicate with your tenants
Owners of rental properties should do their best to foster open communication with their tenants. That means being approachable and open to communication, but it also involves being straightforward about your own needs. Make sure your tenants understand that you’re going through this with them, and that your livelihood depends on their rent payments.
Hire management for your rental properties
This is a particularly difficult time to be a landlord. Hiring a professional property management company to oversee your rental properties can be an effective way to not only make your properties more efficient and profitable, but also reduce your stress.
Remember the big picture
It’s important to remember that, for at least as long as the pandemic goes on, it’s in landlords’ best interest to work with tenants on late rent. In doing so, you’ll avoid the public relations nightmare and potential legal hot water you could end up in if you evict someone. Plus, you’ll gain a reputation as a good, understanding landlord, and that can benefit your rental business for years to come.
Contact us today to learn more about property management during COVID-19. Son-Rise Property Management has been serving the property management needs of Bellingham and Whatcom County since 1996.