Landlords aren’t simply asset managers, they are essential to society for the renter to have a place to call ‘home’.
Property managers looking for ideas on how to make a greater impact on your tenants may find inspiration from these tales of how landlords help tenants during this pandemic. Plus, you’ll find suggestions for simple ways to help your tenants that you may find useful.
Amazing Landlord Responses to COVID-19
It is often lost on society that property owners and property managers provide an essential service. Often, landlords go above and beyond for their residents year round. Yet, in this season of uncertainty we see landlords help tenants in grander and amazing ways that deserve to be shared.
Rent Forgiveness in the News
Property owners with the financial means have been overwhelmingly generous. These landlords help tenants by offering rent forgiveness in light of the difficulties and struggles renters are facing due to the pandemic.
Landlords Help Tenants With Rent Forgiveness Coast-to-Coast
In Bakersfield, Ca, Dennis Beaver and his wife created a stimulus plan of their own to help their tenants struggling with financial hardship to pay rent in April telling his tenants, “Don’t pay April’s rent this is our gift to you. We are all in this war together.”
On the East Coast, Mario Salemo waived rent for hundreds of tenants across his residential and commercial portfolio. Salemo says, “I’m really not concerned about the rent right now, I’m concerned about peoples’ health. Not only are we up against an epidemic, these poor people have no jobs and they’re worried about getting sick. I didn’t think it was much on a person like me, who God was good to, to help them all out.”
Rent Forgiveness Country by Country
Meanwhile, in addition to offering groceries, medicine, or other supplies, Chris Boyes, a landlord in Toronto offered rent forgiveness to his 36 tenants saying, “I really don’t care about money right now, I care about YOU…You shouldn’t be struggling to find a roof for your family”. He was inspired to offer this kindness as a pay-it-forward when he was once struggling and his landlord waived his rent at a time of financial hardship in his life.
Across the pond in Lancashire England, Paul Bradshaw offered his one tenant five months rent-free in response to COVID-19. He goes on to say, “Now, more than ever, we need to look after each other. We can all do something, no matter how small, to contribute to a kinder society.”
Landlords Offering Partial Rent Concessions
In some cases, it just isn’t feasible financially for a landlord to offer a full month’s rent so some are offering discounts in the form of a partial rent forgiveness.
A commercial landlord in Alexandria Virginia is offering tenants partial rent forgiveness by waiving rent for the days a business has to be closed due to the pandemic.
The San Antonio Apartment Association has asked its members to forgive twenty-five percent of rent owed for tenants who receive aid from the city. While in Cape Code a landlord discounted rent by thirty percent.
But, What if I Can’t Offer Rent Forgiveness?
It is a misconception that all landlords have amassed great wealth and can handle not collecting rent.
While some lenders are allowing landlords to defer mortgage payments, and even with governmental business incentives, sometimes offering rent forgiveness may be understandably out of reach because:
- Rent payments cover property taxes, utilities, or maintenance
- Profit margins have been to thin to create a savings cushion
- Profits are used to keep the landlords’ family afloat
- Landlording might be your only source of income
- You may be self-employed and in need of assistance yourself if rents aren’t collected
And that’s ok. There are still many small things a landlord can offer to extend a helping hand and show tenants they care.
Start with a Thoughtful Approach to Tenant Help
Evaluate the long term consequences and goals for the short term good. For instance, evictions, tenant turnover, and vacancies are very costly for landlords, so efforts and resources you put into helping your tenants now may save you a great deal of money in the future.
Take advantage of any zero interest, loan forgiveness, governmental stimulus offers available that fit your specific situation. Those added resources might be able to help you be in a position to pass along a little help or kindness to your tenants.
Lastly, the two important concepts to remember are to:
Be consistent with all your residents on what you offer to avoid discrimination.
– and –
Think about what you can offer and then only offer what you can afford in light of your resources.
Payment Arrangement Suggestions
With unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, and tax refunds, tenants might just need a little time to meet their rent obligation. Landlords help tenants by offering:
- Customized rent deferred payment arrangements
- A freeze on rent increases
- Lower rent amount in exchange for a longer lease
- Resource information to direct tenants to government aide, charities, and agencies that help tenants pay rent
You might also consider offering a rent discount for every dollar paid in the current month to help your cash flow.
For example: if rent is $1000, offer a ten percent discount of $100 next month if they pay-in-full this month or a five percent discount for partial payments. Check with your local and state regulations as well as your accountant to understand what is allowable for your circumstance.
Simple Ways to Help Your Tenants
In addition to making payment arrangements and payment incentives, there are smaller kindnesses that can be extended during this time such as:
- Waive or Discount:
- Late fees
- Pet fees
- Appliance rental fees
- Online payment transaction fees
- Internet/cable service fee
- Metered services such as water or electricity
- Bundled services such as water, sewer, garbage
- Upgrade Services
- Add additional garbage pickup and/or increase bin size.
- Order extra yard waste containers as more people are working in their yards and gardens.
- Upgrade internet/cable service bundle and offer at no additional cost.
Other Small Things Property Managers Can Do
It’s the little things that show you care to make tenants feel at ease. Give them a call or email letting them know you are there for them. Ask if they need anything and if you can, help or direct them to resources for help.
Use your imagination and heart to reach out to your tenants with gifts and care packages such as:
- Grocery gift cards
- Restaurant gift cards
- Shopping gift cards
- Toilet paper
- Disinfectant wipes
- Grocery staples
Landlords are amazing and make a difference every day in the lives of their tenants; which means YOU are amazing and make a difference!
I am a landord 65 years of age and my wife and I are raising two grand children in Southern New Jersey. I have 4 rentals we purchased last July as a supplement to our income but now I find myself relying solely on the rent to keep our family floating and maintain the properties.I am self employed and my main source of income dried up.
Even though it wasn’t feasible, we did without somethings and my wife and I decided to give a $100.00 dollar deduction to our tenants for the months rent of April.
Three of my tenants ( all still working) were appreciative and showed their thanks. One is a single mother raising two children on her own. She had tears in her eyes and told me she never had a landlord like us, and paid the reduced rent on time.
One however took advantage of the outbreak when it first started and fell behind on March’s rent and utility bill. We let that go, waved the late fee paid their utility bill and we were told it would be paid in April. This month they paid 340.00 dollars toward the 1000.00 rent that we reduced to 900.00 and failed to pay the promised past due 70.00 dollar utility bill and the 200 dollar late rent from March. One of them is collecting unemployment and the other working. During the course of March they purchased two cars and new cell phones. Such a shame how good intentions and help works both ways. One gives thanks and another takes advantage.
Robert, the generosity and kindness you and your wife showed to your renters is amazing in light of trying to raise your grandchildren while relying solely on rental income. I love hearing the gratitude you received from most of your tenants and sorry to hear how the other responded. With all the new and varied governmental subsidies for unemployment and stimulus, we are hopeful many renters will find the resources to meet their rent obligations.