How To Get Your Multifamily Rental Through COVID
All landlords have been facing unprecedented challenges since the start of the pandemic, but multifamily rental (MFR) owners arguably have even more headaches to contend with because of the impact of COVID-19.
In addition to grappling with the financial implications of some of their tenants being out of work and unable to pay rent, Multifamily rental landlords also have additional health and safety concerns which they need to address in their property management approach.
Your main goals in managing a multifamily rental during COVID therefore should be:
- To minimize exposure of your residents and staff to the virus
- To ensure stability and profitability in your business in the current economic climate
Let’s go through some tips on how to achieve these goals, keeping both your tenants and your investment safe during these trying times:
Communicate well with your tenants
Maintaining consistent communication with your tenants is more important now than ever before. For one, communicating with residents is the first step to prevent and handle any COVID outbreak in your properties. Good communication will help you implement and inform your tenants about any necessary protocol changes in your buildings (like new rules for use of common areas), as well as address concerns from fellow residents if one of your tenants tests positive for the virus.
Furthermore, residents of smaller (studio-2 bedroom) multifamily units are also more likely to have lower income, and be at greater risk of losing their income during a lockdown—which means there’s a higher chance of them struggling with rent payments during the pandemic. Proactive tenant communications are essential for staying on top of any missed payments, working with tenants to agree payment plans, and dealing with evictions as quickly as possible.
Develop a plan of action
Having a COVID-19 strategy in place ahead of time will help you manage possible cases in your multifamily properties. When planning, consider the demographics and needs of your tenants – for example, there might be residents that require more help (e.g. disabled or elderly tenants) while some will be at higher risk of contracting the virus due to their work (e.g. frontliners). Identify all these needs and collaborate with your local health departments to craft out a preventive plan and self-quarantining guidelines for anyone who might have been exposed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has their own guide on steps to manage shared housing and how to take care of your business and employees, so you can base your plan on these. You can also stay updated with the policies and current infection levels for Detroit City and Michigan state to help you decide when to increase or relax your safety measures.
Here are some things you might want to include in your plan:
● Use of communal spaces
Reduce or limit the use of shared spaces, like lobbies, washrooms, corridors, stairways, laundry rooms, and elevators.
Close off non-essential sections, create dedicated entry and exit routes, use physical barriers, and put up signs to remind tenants of the proper procedures. If you have elderly or handicapped residents, you might need to adapt some of these safety measures, so make sure you understand their individual needs first.
● Social distancing, PPE, and hygiene
Encourage residents and staff to self-isolate if they’ve been exposed, and ask all persons to wear masks, stay socially distant, disinfect their hands, and minimize face-to-face interactions when outside of their units. You can limit elevators to four occupants at a time, or even put up your own sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas.
● Defer non-critical maintenance
Put off any non-urgent repairs to the extent allowed by law or regulation. For the City of Detroit, the local government website has a section dedicated to property maintenance regulations, along with a hotline for direct queries. Announce these new procedures to your residents to manage their expectations regarding any non-essential repairs during the pandemic.
● Visitor policy
You may also want to limit the number of non-resident guests which each unit is permitted to have at a given time (again, check your local guidelines regularly to make sure your rules are in keeping with current lockdown restrictions).
● Conduct safe turnovers
Make sure to follow the CDC’s guidelines for thoroughly disinfecting a home, and ask both the outgoing and incoming tenants to take the necessary measures to prevent COVID infection.
If they can limit the number of people present during the move, all the better.
To keep your multifamily rental business running smoothly during this challenging time, you need to have a consistent line of communication with all of your tenants, and a plan of action which all residents are clearly informed of. Do this, and you’ll be better equipped to protect both your tenants and your business from the effects of the virus.
Final Tip: If you manage MFRs in the local area, the City of Detroit has its own COVID dashboard which you can check regularly to get updates on the status of the pandemic and adapt your plan accordingly.
How are you managing your multifamily property during the pandemic? Share your tips below.
Image Courtesy of Louis