The coronavirus outbreak has had an unprecedented impact on real estate. With stay at home orders and quarantines in many cities, property management companies have been forced to shut down their offices and even lay off some employees. This has made things difficult for property managers who still have to do their job and keep the rental income coming. Wondering how to be a good property manager in the midst of coronavirus? Here are some COVID-19 tips for property managers:
A Good Property Manager Understands the Local Regulations
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has provided detailed information about the coronavirus on their website. You can learn about the symptoms, how it spreads, who is at risk, how to protect yourself, and what to do when sick. Get familiar with these guidelines and pass the information to your tenants.
In addition, the federal government has provided national regulations and guidelines in response to the coronavirus. Learn about your state’s local regulations and share this with your tenants as well. These regulations will be useful for both tenants and landlords.
A Good Property Manager Communicates
Effective communication is a major aspect of being a good property manager. Make use of readily available means of communication such as email and SMS to send vital notifications and messages to your tenants and property management clients.
If you are not using property management software, this would be a good time to install one. You can choose between tools such as Buildium, Appfolio, Hemlane, Propertyware, and Rentec Direct. Most property management software comes with the ability to send automated messages. This will make it easier to streamline your communications by sending the right message at the right time to the right people.
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Good Property Managers Make Tenant Safety Their Priority
As a property manager, the safety of tenants should be your main priority during this crisis. Inform your staff and renters of the safety precautions that are needed and encourage them to play their role. If you are managing a multi family home, have a cleaning procedure to ensure that the common areas are disinfected as often as possible. This includes elevators, rails, countertops, benches, and door handles. Your staff should be provided with the necessary protective equipment as well as EPA approved disinfectants.
Your team should also be cautious when handling packages. When such packages are delivered, ask your staff or tenants to disinfect them first before taking them into their residences. Finally, non-essential common areas such as the gym, clubhouse, or children’s playground should be temporarily closed to avoid unnecessary gatherings.
A Good Property Manager Stays Connected to the Team
Keeping your team connected is a vital part of how to be a good property manager. Have virtual meetings with your team at least twice a week. Use the meetings to get reports and give directives for what needs to be done. Find out what challenges your people are facing at work and do your best to resolve them. This regular engagement and support will help keep the spirits of everyone up while managing a rental property during a pandemic.
Good Property Managers Conduct Virtual Routine Inspections
With social distancing measures and quarantines, conducting physical routine inspections is a challenge. This is especially tricky if a rental property has elderly tenants or anyone else that is immunocompromised. The only option in this case then would be a virtual inspection. Get on a video chat with the tenant and ask them to use their phones to show you around the property. Provide instructions about the specific areas you would want to inspect.
In case a home doesn’t have any vulnerable tenants, you can go ahead with a physical inspection while observing hygiene standards and social distancing. Wear a mask, sanitize your hands, wear gloves, and keep your distance.
Good Property Managers Conduct Virtual Tours
To avoid exposing yourself or potential tenants to the virus, you will need to conduct virtual house tours. This is something all good property managers are doing right now. Tools such as FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Live, and Zoom can come in very handy for this. All you need to do is record a video on your mobile device while walking through the unit.
If you can afford it, invest in a professional HD camera and good lighting. This will make your videos appear more professional. You can then share the recorded tours on social media and upload them on YouTube to attract views and generate more leads.
Good Property Managers Only Conduct Emergency Repairs
To ensure everyone stays safe, all non-essential repairs should be suspended temporarily. If anything needs to be fixed, wear a mask, gloves, and keep your distance from other people. Some repairs which would qualify as essential include:
- A broken air conditioner or furnace
- Leaking pipes
- Growing mold
- Leaking roof
- Backed up sewage drain
- The smell of noxious fumes
- Power outage
- Fire or smoke damage
- Broken key to the rental property
- Faulty water heater
- Broken refrigerator or stove
The regulations about rental property maintenance will vary depending on where the property is located. Visit the local municipality’s site to learn about the regulations for your area.
A Good Property Manager Updates Eviction Policies
Recently, the president of the United States has asked landlords not to evict tenants during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, according to the CARES act, tenants living in federal-backed homes cannot be evicted for up to 4 months.
You will need to update your eviction policies to adhere to these regulations. In consultation with the landlord, you could also choose to stop charging late fees for rent. This will show tenants that you are concerned about their welfare, thus boosting resident retention. If someone can no longer afford your rent, you could allow them to break their lease in order to move to cheaper accommodation.
A Good Property Manager Makes Use of Online Rent Payment Methods
To maintain positive cash flow while avoiding the spread of the coronavirus, provide a way for tenants to receive invoices and pay their rent digitally. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to switch to online rent payment. Most property management software allows you to set up a tenant direct debit that enables the transfer of funds from the bank. In addition, consider other payment options such as Stripe and PayPal.
Being a property manager in the midst of COVID-19 is not easy. However, anyone can learn how to be a good property manager in the midst of a crisis. As you observe these rental property management tips, don’t forget about yourself. Eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. Engage in other activities to get your mind off work. This will help you stay calm and boost your effectiveness in tenant management.
And don’t forget to continue to explore new ways to improve your property management business. Start here.