The COVID-19 pandemic has put over 40 million people out of work in the US–a full quarter of the labor force. While there are no reliable estimates as to how many of these people are renters, we do know that nearly 50 million people in the US rent their homes.
Many people out of work aren’t eligible for unemployment or, if they are, get much less than what they were getting when they were working. This lack of income has resulted in millions of tenants unable to pay rent.
This has put landlords in a tenuous position, as they often have mortgages to pay and millions of landlords are individual owners who rely on rent to pay their bills. If you’re a landlord with a tenant who can’t pay their rent, here are 5 things you can do.
1. Work Out a Payment Plan
One of the most important things you can do is to communicate with your tenant. Talk to them to learn about their situation if they can’t pay their rent. If possible, work out a payment plan with them.
If you can, allow them to pay partial rent or to pay it over a few weeks rather than paying it in full at the beginning of the month. Whatever arrangement you work out with your renters, make sure it is realistic and put it in writing. Put all of the details, including dates and amounts, in an agreement that both you and your tenant agree to and sign.
2. Speak With Your Mortgage Lender
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes help for borrowers by waiving late fees on your mortgage payments and suspending foreclosures. If your tenants can’t pay and because of that, you can’t pay your mortgage, contact your lender to see what programs they have available for you.
3. Contact Your Insurance Company
You don’t want to let your insurance lapse, but you can contact them to see if they have any programs for landlords experiencing non-payment of rent due to COVID layoffs. Some companies are waiving late fees, allowing policyholders to pay over time, and not canceling policies for nonpayment.
Many of these programs aren’t automatic, so you’ll have to take the initiative to call your insurance company and ask them for assistance.
4. See What Your State Is Doing About Property Taxes
Most states have summer and winter property taxes. If your taxes are due and you can’t pay them, check with your city, state, or county to see if they have made any special provisions due to COVID. Some localities are allowing residents to pay their taxes in installment plans, waiving late fees, and allowing them to defer payments for a few months.
5. Avoid Eviction
Many states have issued emergency orders that prohibit landlords from evicting tenants, so this may not be an option anyway. Even if it is, consider working with your tenant as much as possible to keep them in the property. Eviction is costly for you as the landlord, there’s no guarantee you’ll get any of that money back if you win, and then you have an empty property until you find a new tenant.
If Your Tenant Can’t Pay Rent, Try to Work With Them
As a landlord, you rely on your tenant to pay rent so you can pay your bills. However, the unprecedented furloughs and layoffs of the COVID-19 pandemic are largely outside of their control. If you can work with them to keep them at all possible, it’s in your best interest to try to do that.
Keyrenter Property Management in Hampton Roads can help you manage your renters. Contact us for more information if you have a property that you need managed.