Talking to your tenants (COVID-19)

I know a LOT of you are worried about your tenants not paying rent. This seems like a pretty legitimate concern. A number of tenants wont have any income during the lockdown, or they might not have as much as they expected. This isn’t their fault, but it is your problem. Then there are the dirt bag tenants who will use the virus chaos as an excuse to stop paying rent, while knowing that you cant evict them while the courts are shut down. Your mortgage company will still want your payment even if you aren’t collecting any rent.

So, my thought is that we need to get ahead of this before it becomes a train wreck. I suggest reaching out to your tenants and discussing the situation. Most of these people will be reasonable but that small group of dirt bags will be hard to deal with. I was going to write up a script where you explain that you will work with them and you don’t really want to garnish their income after the stay at home order is lifted, but then I found a better approach.
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Dear Tenants—I’m Sending This Letter to My Tenants Today
Brandon Turner

In light of coronavirus, my rental business just sent a letter to all my tenants. I thought I’d share the exact letter with you in case you want to send one of your own, as well.

Recently, I released a video on BiggerPockets (and on YouTube and Facebook) called “Are Your Tenants Unable to Pay Rent Due to Coronavirus? Here’s What to Do.”

That video walked you through exactly what we’re going to do if a tenant is unable to pay. Well, that has almost 100,000 views since its release (less than a week ago at the time of writing). So, this is clearly a topic of concern for landlords today.

That’s why I want to go even deeper into what we’re doing to prevent that from even happening.

We are not trying to make a profit off this economic meltdown. We’re trying to survive just like you are. People always come before profit. We’re going to do what we can to make sure that we all make it through this. You know, most landlords don’t have a pile of money just sitting around. In many cases, these rental properties are our 401(k)s. Our retirement accounts. Our job income. This is not a time for profiting. It is a time for working together and taking care of each other—both landlord and tenant.

Our mortgages still haven’t been canceled. I still owe my bank a lot of money here in a few days. Maybe the government’s going to step in and make policy changes, in which case this advice might change. But right now, we have properties to maintain, mortgages to pay, property taxes do, etc.

Landlords, We’ve Got a Problem

If you’ve been spending any time on social media, you probably have encountered the same thing I have. There is this widespread belief in the world that because evictions have been postponed in a lot of areas, tenants do not have to pay rent. I’ve read dozens of posts from my non-landlord friends about not paying their rent.

Now, in all likelihood, and according to a recent article in Forbes, 89 percent of our tenants will still likely have a job and still have income coming in. The unemployment rate is estimated to be in the 10 percent range.

So, my concern as a landlord is not the 10 percent of people who are out of a job. My concern is the other 90 percent, who even though they have a job, believe they don’t have to pay rent. That’s why we sent a letter to our tenants that basically summarizes three things:

We care about them.
We care about their homes.
The rent still needs to come in.

Now, remember, we’re all in this together. Landlords, it’s time to take care of our tenants. Work with those who need it and make sure no one’s homeless because of this horrible pandemic.

And tenants, it’s vital you make sure your landlord can still pay their bills so the property doesn’t eventually get foreclosed on and you’ll lose your home anyway.
With that, below is the letter. You can also get a copy of it here. Download it in case you want to send your own version.


Dear Resident,

We hope this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. The past few weeks have, undoubtedly, been some of the most life-changing weeks we’ve seen in modern times. The looming threat of the COVID-19 virus has taken this country, and our state, by storm. We are hoping and praying that the extreme social distancing will prove effective to slow the spread of this illness and that we’ll all soon be back to normal.

As your property manager, we wanted to reach out and address a few important issues regarding the pandemic as well as your tenancy.

1) Social Distancing’s Purpose:

Right now, no doubt you’ve heard about (and are engaged in) what we refer to as “social distancing.” The purpose of this world-wide action is not simply to stop you from getting sick; the larger purpose is to slow down the progression of this virus so hospitals will not be overwhelmed with those who are most likely to be affected. Without social distancing, hospitals will quickly be overrun with far too many patients and not enough equipment to handle it. As such, we just encourage you to stay home and follow the guidelines set forth by the CDC, which you can read more about by going to http://cdc.gov/coronavirus.

2) Maintenance and Repairs:

Due to the restrictions on work and the need to keep government-mandated social distancing, we may be slower than normal to respond to non-emergency maintenance requests. Please don’t hesitate to call us with any requests, but please be patient as we work on what we can when we can. And if any maintenance workers are sent to your home, please be sure to keep at least six feet away from them, to maintain the social distancing.

3) Rent Payments:

As of now, the owners of rental properties in the United States are still responsible for making their mortgage payments to their banks, as well as paying for taxes, insurance, repairs, and other expenses needed to maintain your home. We still need to make sure we receive income to cover these bills.

If you have lost all ability to pay rent, including losing your job, your other sources of income, your unemployment has run out, and no government assistance comes to fruition, then please call us at the office as soon as possible so we can help you go over your options. Communication is key and urgent.

This is a rapidly changing time for everyone, tenants and landlords alike and we will continue to monitor the economic landscape in the coming weeks and months. Thank you for being a valued tenant and we look forward to getting through these tough times together. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Management

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