COVID-19 Considerations for Landlords and Property Managers
COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and social distancing are important to slow the spread of the disease and ensure our medical system is not overburdened, but these disruptions can affect a landlord and property manager’s ability to care for HOA/COA homes and tenant-occupied properties.
Furthermore, businesses have shut down, leaving many residents unable to pay HOA/COA fees, mortgage, or rent. COVID-19 considerations for landlords and property managers include balancing the need for income with the need for empathy during these difficult times and understanding new laws passed to protect homeowners and tenants.
Consider Hardship Billing Options
Associations’ budgets are created based on the assumption homeowners will pay their assessments, and your job is to make sure the money shows up.
Associations are non-profits formed to maintain property values and provide services to the homeowners. However, if homeowners fail to pay their assessments, associations will be unable to sustain these commitments, and property values will decrease. You may find yourself trapped between a rock and a hard place over your obligations to community upkeep and your desire to be a compassionate neighbor.
Therefore, many associations are making temporary payment adjustments to assist homeowners during COVID-19 — a hardship option that balances empathy with completing association functions. One way to do this is to approach each homeowner account individually if possible and provide concessions that include:
- A payment plan option that allows homeowners (or their tenants) to stretch out payments over time, reducing monthly payment sizes
- Waiving association billing costs for the hardest hit accounts
- Halting late fees and interest from accruing for several months
Rule Enforcement for Non-Essential Services
Property managers and their boards should consult state and local ordinances to determine what services are essential and how to safely and reasonably provide them.
You can help your property owners by taking a moderate approach to rule enforcement. It may make sense to continue pursuing violations regarding unsanctioned improvements, major trash accumulation, or common area infractions.
However, it may also be prudent to ease overgrown grass restrictions in states where landscaping is not considered an essential service; or parking violations since there are more people stuck at home, and more vehicles are congesting streets and driveways.
Further, keep in mind that vendors may be unable to deliver on their services due to social distancing concerns, and homeowners may be unable to implement residential upkeep due to infirmities or lack of equipment.
Make sure to communicate with your homeowners so they know you may be unable to send vendors to the property for non-emergency issues. Non-essential maintenance and repairs within homes with quarantined residents should be avoided to prevent infection spread.
Where important repair or maintenance is required, contractors or maintenance staff may ask whether occupants have contracted the disease. Workers who do not feel safe entering a home cannot be compelled to do so. However, if crucial health or safety repairs are required, critical workers should safeguard themselves when entering the home.
The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act signed into law in March, prevents landlords and property managers from evicting tenants living in homes with federally-backed mortgage loans.
During this period, landlords and property managers may not collect late fees or penalties for overdue rents. Despite this, the eviction moratorium does not relieve tenants of their rent obligation, it merely prevents you as a landlord from evicting your renter during that stretch of time.
In addition to the federal guidelines, many cities and states have also established emergency COVID-19 tenant protections.
These laws and guidelines make it especially challenging for home or condo owners renting to tenants who cannot pay their rent. Association fees and mortgage payments still need to be made and with no rental income, you may have to negotiate your bank and association management company to avoid non-payment penalties.
Property owners renting to tenants unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 can also find relief through the Federal CARES Act. The Act provides temporary restrictions on foreclosures of federally-backed loans.
Homeowners may request a forbearance for up to 180 days from their lender and once that expires, they may submit an additional 180-day forbearance request. During a forbearance period, no fees, penalties, or interest will accrue for non-payment.
Effective Communication Is Critical for Landlords and Property Managers
Property managers and landlords are turning to technology more than ever to discuss critical COVID-19-related information with their homeowners and boards. New laws and regulations can be posted immediately to message boards and sent through emails while homeowners and tenants are alerted to up-to-date safety precautions, rule adjustments, and billing concessions.
CINC Systems is honored to provide a powerful platform where this vital information can move rapidly between property managers, homeowners, and association boards. We at CINC are committed to the well-being and safety of our association homeowners, managers, and partners during this difficult time.
Related Frequently Asked Questions
- How Can Association Management Companies Working with HOA/COAs Benefit from Association Management Software?
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