As a Sarasota property management company, we're certainly starting to see the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on our community. The fallout is not only harming many Sarasota-area renters who rely on traditional brick-and-mortar industries for employment, but property owners and investors along the Gulf Coast as well.The greatest impact that we've seen has fallen on DIY property owners and investors who have no protections under the new CARES Act that was signed into law on March 27th. While certain landlords gained mortgage relief coverage if they happened to have a federally-backed loan, privately-backed property owners quickly found themselves in dire straights.
We also know that there are a fair share of DIY property owners who are immunocompromised, and that trying to manage the needs of your properties during this time has been not only stressful but potentially life-threatening. If you're not working with a Sarasota property management partner, you've been meeting the needs of your renters yourself—while putting your health at risk.
While some property owners in Sarasota may still have renters able to pay their rent, what happens when your renters can't—or don't want to—pay rent during a crisis like this? For all of the DIY landlords in this situation, we hear your concerns. We know that many of you rely on steady rental payments to meet your needs and to continue providing a safe and healthy home for your renters.
With that in mind, we've put together some crucial tips to help the solo property owners out there who are struggling. If you've been wondering how to approach rent collection in a crisis, read on.
Start by Documenting Everything
If you're a seasoned property investor, you're probably already familiar with this concept—but it can be an easy one to miss for property owners who are on their first property or in the early stages of running a rental business.
- Documenting every piece of communication between you and your renters during this time is crucial.
- This not only ensures that your renters will be kept in the loop, but it shows an earnest effort on your part to work with them to try and meet their needs—and yours—in the middle of a crisis.
- Keeping tabs on this information also keeps you accountable, reinforcing careful communication with your renters that can spare you considerable grief down the line.
- Documenting the details also protects you as the property owner if worse comes to worst, and you're forced down the path to eviction.
If you haven't been keeping up with your record-keeping, there's never a better time to start than now. As a Sarasota property management professional, we know that documenting every detail protects our property owners—and not just during a crisis.
Be Compassionate—but Not a Pushover
Property owners who have gotten this far in real estate know that ultimately, it's a people business. It's important right now to show your renters that you care about the situation that you're in together, and what your stance is when it comes to their needs regarding things like maintenance or rent collection.
However, it's important to remember one thing: while renting properties is a people business, it's still a business. When showing your renters that you're in this together, you still need to maintain professionalism in every aspect. This means not getting too personal with your renters and remembering that while you may care, your residents are not your friends.
Now is a time to come together as a community—but if you cross your professional boundaries with your renters, it will make it that much harder for you to collect the rent. When you can't collect rent, you:
- Have a harder time providing a safe and reliable home your renters can count on—maintenance costs money!
- Are still expected to pay for property taxes, landlords insurance, and other expenses on your rental.
- May struggle to make ends meet for you and your family or have difficulty paying your mortgage.
As an expert in Sarasota property management, we know that compassion is essential if you want to be a good landlord. However, you also have to be able to uphold the terms of your lease—or you won't be able to maintain your rental properties long term.
Work With Your Renters—Not Against Them
There are definitely some renters out there right now who are worried about making their rental payment—more than there are renters who are taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to avoid paying rent. Working with your renters by providing them with resources and options for keeping up with their payments not only helps you, but it also protects your residents as well.
- Take the time to proactively approach the issue in advance by providing your renters with local resources they can turn to during the COVID-19 crisis, including food pantries, rent relief providers, and support for utility payments.
- Encourage your renters to seek available exemptions from other payments like their auto insurance or other loans if their providers are currently offering extensions.
- Point out alternative forms of payment that may help your renters cover their expenses in installments, and consider offering installment-type payments on your property as a final option.
The goal of these efforts is not only to help you continue to pay your mortgage, but it is also an attempt to preserve your renter's credit score, retain long-term residents, and avoid the stress of an eviction down the road. We know from experience that no property owner enjoys evicting their residents—and wants to avoid this at all costs.
Leave It in the Hands of Your Sarasota Property Management Partner
Being a DIY property owner has never been easy—but the COVID-19 crisis has hit home just how hard it really is. You shouldn't have to go through this process alone: at Gulf Coast Property Management, we want investors and landlords to know that we're here for you.
That's exactly why we put together our Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook for landlords who need critical guidance during this time. It's absolutely free, so don't wait to download your copy and preserve your income, your properties, and your family during this time.