COVID-19 has affected us all. But landlords—especially small, independent landlords—have been hurt more than most.
Abundant assistance has been provided for tenants who are unable to pay rent, but help for landlords and rental property management has been meager. Now that federal and state moratoriums on evictions have been extended yet again, landlords all over the country are wondering what it means for them.
Rental Property Management Affected by Another Extension on Eviction Moratorium
What does the extension mean?
After multiple previous extensions and months of wondering whether the moratorium on evictions would be extended yet again, we have our answer. Landlords remain barred from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent at least through March 31, 2021.
President Joe Biden issued an executive order extending the moratorium within hours of taking office. Of course, eviction bans had already been extended in many states. That includes here in Washington, where Governor Jay Inslee had already announced an extension of the state’s eviction moratorium back in December.
If you’re a landlord or the owner of a rental property, here’s what the extension of the moratorium means for you:
- Landlords, property owners and property managers may not evict or terminate the residency of any tenant (or threaten to do so) due to nonpayment of rent.
- They also may not charge or threaten to charge any late fees for nonpayment or late payment of rent from the beginning of the moratorium (February 29, 2020) through the end of moratorium (March 31, 2021).
- Tenants may only be evicted due to a “significant and immediate risk to the health, safety, or property of others,” or if the landlord intends to either sell the property or occupy it themselves, in which case at least 60 days’ notice must be given.
- Landlords and property owners may initiate an application for rental assistance for their tenants, and may communicate with tenants regarding their application for rental assistance.
Will tenants still owe back rent?
Evictions have been put on hold, but rent has not been canceled. One silver lining for landlords is that, when the pandemic is over and the moratorium on evictions is lifted, tenants will still owe their accumulated back rent.
That might feel like a light at the end of the tunnel, as it should. But for the time being, it’s important that landlords take steps to lay the groundwork for that future day by communicating with their tenants, and making sure they understand that any payments they miss now will eventually be owed as back rent.
How should landlords proceed?
First and foremost, Washington landlords and rental property mangement companies should familiarize themselves with the exact contents of Governor Inslee’s proclamation (you can read it in full here). Once you’ve done that, you can start taking actionable steps to work with your tenants.
- Be proactive. Reach out to tenants who have been affected by the pandemic, and let them know that you understand their situation and will work with them.
- Try to strike an agreement to accept partial rent from any tenants who cannot pay in full. Make sure they understand that the balance of their owed rent will still be due at a later date.
- Let your tenants know that there are financial resources available to them, including state rental assistance programs, and try to connect them with the help they may need to be able to pay rent.
- Make it clear that tenants who have not been affected by the pandemic will be required to pay rent as usual.
To help navigate the murky waters of being a landlord during COVID-19, consider working with a professional rental management company. Contact us today to learn how we can help.