If you've been following our crisis management coverage through our Sarasota property management blogs, then you're already caught up on some of the other topics we've covered. However, for those of you just tuning in, we recommend you take a look at some key blogs prior to this point for insight into:
- Establishing your emergency response plan to protect your investment income.
- Carefully culturing communication with your renters during a time of crisis.
- Making rent easier to pay and developing payment plans for struggling residents.
- How to approach renters who can't—or won't—pay the rent outlined by your lease.
If you start with these topics first, you may be able to completely avoid the material we're planning to cover in today's article: how to approach crisis management when you may not be able to evict, and what that looks like moving into the future of your properties.
This is a sensitive topic, but it's—unfortunately—one that many DIY property owners will have to experience at some point when owning investment properties. As an expert in Sarasota property management, we often find there are viable alternatives besides eviction when it comes to problem-solving with your properties. However, in some cases, it ends up being a necessary last resort that investors turn to when all else fails.
It's important to note that while you care deeply about the wellbeing of your renters, your rental properties are still a business that has expenses. While it's natural to see some of your residents struggling to make their rent during a sweeping crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, how do you approach those who take advantage of protections during this time by refusing to pay rent—or worse, endanger your property and others around them when they violate the lease?
Today we're going to touch on exactly what you can do as the property owner when it feels like you're losing control over your holdings.
A quick note: The following article is not a substitute for legal counsel. If you need immediate help with a pressing issue concerning your tenants, turn to a competent attorney or Gulf Coast Property Management for real-time assistance!
Keeping Calm—When Others Aren't
As a Sarasota property management company, we know that any crisis has the effect of either bringing out the best in people—or the worst parts of their character. This is an unfortunate reality about how people approach stress. It's crucial for you, as the property owner, to stay calm, considerate, and professional during this time in any of your interactions with your renters.
The last thing any DIY property owners want to do when standing on a powder keg is accidentally set it off: when people are pushed financially, physically, and emotionally to their breaking point, they're more likely to do things they'd never do when they feel safe and secure. Cultivate a feeling of safety and security for your residents with every interaction, and you'll be able to proceed with whatever comes next in good standing.
It's another unfortunate truth that some people will take advantage of the suffering of others and use it to further their own agendas; take care not to get caught up in the politics surrounding a crisis and base your decisions on what's best for you and your residents within reason. This has the added benefit of protecting you as the property owner when documenting the details of an escalating situation.
Document Every Detail
If you've been keeping up with your paperwork, a crisis is not the time to let that habit slip. If you haven't been documenting the day-to-day operations and interactions of your property management business, now is the time to get started. If a crisis causes relations with your renters to deteriorate, keeping track of how things got to this point—as well as your response to the issue—ultimately protects you and your investment properties down the line.
In addition to the signed leasing agreement, move-in checklist, and application, you should also be keeping track of:
- Your property inspection records showing you have maintained the great condition of your rentals
- Communication between you and your renters (including any notices you have sent, as appropriate)
- Any payments that have been made (or not made) and any addenda to your lease supporting payment plans.
While we have rarely found eviction to be necessary during our time spent as a Sarasota property management provider, in the event that it is, having the documentation you need to back it up is crucial for property owners.
Eviction at the End
During a crisis, your ability to evict tenants who repeatedly violate your lease agreement may be suspended. We are seeing this happen now in many areas across the country as part of the collective impact of COVID-19. While this is ultimately designed to protect reliable renters, this is an opportunity for "Professional Tenants" to wreak havoc. Be prepared to pursue necessary evictions when restrictions are lifted.
When you work with an expert in Sarasota property management, drawing the right kind of lines when it comes to preserving your rental property income is easier than ever because we can make those hard calls for you. Our years of experience in managing renter relationships gives us an insider's approach to conflict resolution and crisis management. If you have to evict, our experience can make the process straightforward: you do not have to do this alone.
With that in mind, we'd like to offer you access to our free Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook. Many of the tips contained within should help you as part of your ongoing crisis plan to avoid the need for eviction in the first place! Download your copy today to get started on protecting your financial security.