COVID-19 has changed all of our lives in many ways. For landlords, the pandemic comes with a new and unique set of challenges, but there are some measures landlords can take to help protect rental income during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, the American Apartment Owners Association shared with us some tips that landlords may find useful. Shalyse Kendrick on our team shares some of those in this brief video.
For full context there are a few dates that are important to know:
- On April 6th, the Judicial council issued an emergency rule that ceased summons for unlawful detainers to 90 days past the CA state of emergency.
- On May 29th, Governor Newsom extended local governments’ ability to halt evictions for renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, through July 28th.
Watch Out for Scams
The AAOA wants to stress that in times of uncertainty like COVID-19, rental scams can increase so landlords need to take extra precautions. Even though you can’t meet potential tenants in person right now, there are still ways to “see them” before renting.
- Screen tenants through Zoom or FaceTime.
- Ask for multiple forms of ID.
- Do research on tenants based on the identification you receive. For example, make sure they have LinkedIn profiles that match the employment they’re telling you.
Strategies for Leasing
Even though these are unprecedented times there are still strategies you can employ to help you lease your space.
- Hold remote showings via YouTube or Facebook.
- Make sure all online pictures and videos make the space pop as much as possible.
- Set rental rates at market value.
- Follow up on leads quickly.
- Streamline the rental process by allowing tenants to fill out forms and pay digitally. If you haven’t already made the jump to being fully digital, now might be a good time to switch over!
- It is not recommended that you offer a low security deposit or forgo one altogether. If a tenant simply doesn’t have the money for a security deposit right now, LeaseGuarantee is a good alternative. By purchasing LeaseGuarantee landlords can be reimbursed for court judgments between $1,000-$10,000. This includes legal costs, damages, etc. This protects your rental income and helps fill vacancies faster.
Helpful Legal Tips
Laws regarding rental properties have changed and some are still in flux. AAOA suggests you do research on your specific municipality and seek legal advice before making any final decisions. These are their basic guidelines for what landlords and tenants can and can’t do right now:
- Tenants need to give notice if they can’t pay rent.
- Landlords need to give tenants notice before evicting them in some municipalities and specific documentation may be required.
- In some municipalities, tenants need to provide documentation for not being able to pay rent. What kind of documentation judges are going to accept still needs to be seen.
- You can still file for eviction right now, but it might affect your ability to collect rent. You could be higher up on the list for a court date after the pandemic, but you should seek legal counsel before making any decisions. A rent deferral plan is also an option because eviction is costly and can take a long time.
- Even though things are changing right now, it’s not necessary to leave the rental market entirely, you simply need to take some new precautions.