In 2020, COVID-19 has had an impact on every single business across the country. Property managers and landlords are especially facing increased pressure to adapt to changing times, even as the future effects of this situation remains largely unknown. Luckily, creating a safe community for tenants while maintaining a profitable does not have to be difficult. In this blog, we’ll discuss nine ways you and your property management team can get ahead of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Create a pandemic action plan
Most, if not all, property management companies were severely caught off-guard by the onset of the Coronavirus and the adverse effects on business. However, it is never too late to create an action plan in order to circumvent any further hiccups in your operation. The Center for Disease Control has laid out several prevention guidelines related to running a safe business and avoiding widespread infection. Additionally, your state’s health department has likely laid out several regulations in response to the pandemic, such as mandatory mask-wearing, reduced occupancy limits, and more. Consult local legislation, as well as the CDC guidelines, when creating a pandemic action plan for your property management business.
Prioritize safety on the property
Now more than ever, safety must be at the forefront of your operations as a successful property manager. Making sure your tenants and staff understand the importance of protocols such as social distancing. Ensuring a safe resident community will take a conscious effort from everybody involved.
Masks on elevators and common areas
Enforcing a mask policy for tenants walking through common areas and into elevators will help reduce the risk of infection in multifamily units. Displaying signs and notices will help ensure residents are aware of the changes happening around the property.
Update package delivery policies
Many multifamily units and apartment complexes store delivered packages for community residents until they are ready to be picked up. While this is usually a great way to keep mail safe for tenants, performing this service would require direct contact with both mail couriers and residents. For this reason, it’s best to advise delivery drivers to drop packages at doorsteps or in a designated communal area.
Restricting service providers
Service providers should only be allowed on the property for urgent requests. Managers should be in constant communication with services such as phone, plumbing, HVAC, and internet to advise them of the safe practices your community is taking to keep residents safe. Ensure they are taking similar measures when servicing clients.
Implement virtual showings
Virtual tours were available pre-COVID, but their usefulness and prevalence have increased drastically since the onset of the virus. Applications such as Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime has made this practice incredibly easy for landlords who need to fill vacancies within their rental properties.
There are a few different ways to achieve this. The simplest method is by recording a video of the rental property and posting it online along with the advertisement. There’s no need for expensive video equipment, as most modern smartphones are capable of taking impressive high definition videos. Interested parties will be happy to contact you to ask for more information about your rental property.
The second option would be to offer guided video tours upon request. While this approach naturally takes a bit more time initially, this investment will pay off immensely on the back end. Potential tenants will also get to speak with their property manager directly and ask any question they may have, reducing the need for constant back and forth communication after the tour. Additionally, the personable feel of a guided video tour will set you apart from many other property management companies who implement alternate towards dealing with this issue.
Property managers and landlords of upscale properties and large, multifamily complexes may want to consider hiring a company to create a 3D render of their space. Potential tenants will be able to visit your website and ‘visit’ a model unit similar to the one they are looking to rent. 3D renderings are becoming increasingly popular as they provide a holistic, scaled view of your property and allow potential tenants to scan through every inch without being guided by a camera.
Revisit eviction policy
First, check local and federal regulations regarding evictions in your area, as these guidelines are changing constantly. Regardless of these guidelines, it would be a good idea to revisit your eviction policy to accommodate your tenants in such uncertain times. Consider waiving fees for late rent payments or ceasing rent payments altogether while people get back on their feet and get a better understanding of how the pandemic will affect them. While this may hurt cash flow initially, it will drastically improve resident retention and receptiveness.
Handle renewals remotely
Renewals are an important part of successful property management. With a pinch of economic uncertainty on the horizon, resident retention should be the focus now more than ever. Maintaining as much of your current cash flow as possible will be much easier than finding revenue elsewhere. Without office visits and direct contact with tenants, how is this possible?
With property management software such as SecondKeys, your tenants are able to read and sign renewal contracts easy and stress-free. If they have any questions, they can simply submit a help ticket straight from the application as well. Everything is sent over to the property manager on a beautifully designed dashboard where they can approve the renewal, or communicate with the tenant for additional information.
Suspend non-essential repairs
To keep direct contact between staff and tenants minimal, it is a good idea to temporarily suspend the performance of non-essential repairs. Dispatching maintenance only in the event of emergencies will greatly reduce the amount of in-person contact between tenants and staff, while still upholding your responsibilities as a landlord. Examples of essential repairs include:
- Broken or lost keys
- Loss of power
- Presence of mold
- Leaking pipes and/or roof
- Dysfunctional air conditioner
- Broken stove or refrigerator
- Presence of gas and/or other toxic fumes
Communicate with tenants
Most people are quite resistant to change, especially when it causes inconveniences in their daily lives. Starting a communication chain with tenants early, and updating them often, will eliminate tons of unnecessary emails and complaints as these adjustments are made to your property. Tenants should be aware of all relevant changes to the community as soon as they are implemented by your staff. These situations tend to change rapidly, making communication between landlord and tenant more important than ever before.
Increase your internet presence
For many landlords and property managers, finding tenants pre-COVID involved “For Rent” signs, print media, and many other forms of physical advertising. However, with the majority of Americans spending an increasing amount of time at home, these methods are proving less effective than ever before.
Nearly all successful companies in 2020 have some type of internet presence. Your property management business should be no different. Invest in various forms of social and digital media marketing to capture a wider demographic of potential tenants. To begin, try utilizing sites like Zillow, Craigslist, and Domu as a resource for finding new tenants. Instagram and Facebook are also great tools to nurture potential leads, create a digital following, and promote upcoming property listings.
Take your operations online
Investing in the right property management software can take a massive load off of you and your property managers, allowing for increased focus on more vital aspects of the business. This is especially important for smaller teams that may find themselves stretched thin as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can configure property management software systems to collect rent payment from tenants, store lease contracts, and track maintenance requests, among a variety of other tasks. The days of having an office space full of files, folders, and loose sheets of paper are over – you can now access all of this data from the cloud.
SecondKeys has revolutionized the way landlords, managers, tenants, and maintenance teams communicate with its state-of-the-art property management software. Designed with beautiful, individualized dashboards for all stakeholders, SecondKeys allows you to get the most pertinent information at a glance, allowing for transparency and efficiency across the business.
Your property management business does not have to suffer due to COVID-19. Consider implementing these tips in order to help your company weather the storm through this unprecedented pandemic. Your staff and tenants will thank you for it.
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