Managing your property in times of COVID-19: guidance for landlords and property managers

Federica

Updated on Apr 06 • 6 minute read

Sustaining a rental business in the best possible way has proven to be our landlords’ top priority right now. With new travel restrictions all over the world, securing new tenants and keeping current ones is definitely a hard task, and you might be dealing with vacancies in your rental properties.

The ongoing pandemic is affecting every aspect of our lives and businesses. But in times of COVID-19, we believe that a forward-thinking and problem-solving mindset has never been more important. It’s on us to make this challenging situation work in our favour. So, let’s switch the positive mindset on!

For this article, we have partnered up with our advertisers to offer tips on how you can sustain your business during this crisis. Together we have developed hands-on advice on how to negotiate payments with your tenants and landlords and spot opportunities to avoid money loss. With our three tips on how to level up your listings, you can reach more visibility at the flick of a wrist. Finally, we will share two HousingAnywhere functions that have become more important to property managers and landlords than ever before.

Sustain your business by adjusting it to changes in demand

To sustain your business and minimise your losses, you might want to consider a temporary adjustment of your rental price. For example, you could lower the rent for your current tenants or even for your potential ones. This is going to make your properties much more competitive. Many tenants might be going through difficult times, and they might not have a fixed source of income anymore, so showing understanding and flexibility could really help you get your properties rented out.

Alternatively, you could suggest other options that would suit both you and your tenants. Once your tenants have provided you with proof that they have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and are therefore unable to pay the rent, you could suggest one or more of the following options:

  • Payment in instalments. You could offer your tenants a payment plan to have the payments spread over a longer period of time.
  • Extra time. Some of your tenants might just need some extra time to pay the rent, so you might want to accept some late payments.
  • Contract extensions. Some tenants won’t be able to leave the country or the city they’re in due to the current travel bans, and might therefore be willing to extend their rental contract.

If you’re a property manager, you should try to negotiate the rent payment terms with the owner of the properties. You can simply explain to them that, as anyone else, you’re going through difficult times, and it would be helpful if they were willing to negotiate. You could even ask them to freeze the payment for one or more months in order to earn time and keep your business running until the situation improves. This would allow you to lower the rent for your tenants. If you come to an agreement with your landlord, you should write that agreement down and make sure both parties sign it (even just digitally).

In both cases, communication is key: try to talk to your tenants and/or landlord as soon as possible to reach an agreement that will suit you all.

Finally, here are some other options that you should consider to avoid severe money loss:

  • Check out your government’s measures to protect renters affected by COVID-19. It is definitely worth looking into local aids or grants that your government might be offering. You might also want to look at the European Central Bank’s Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme here.
  • If you’re receiving a loan from your bank, negotiate for a more flexible mortgage during the months impacted by COVID-19.
  • Many businesses are currently laying off their staff. If you have employees, we strongly recommend you to carefully assess the cost of cutting your staff, as it would probably imply re-hiring, training and onboarding new employees within a few months from now.

3 Tips on how to level up your listings

Every action you take should contribute to lowering the impact of COVID-19 on your rental activities. With this in mind, you’ll soon realise that the most effective solution might be the most obvious one: the visibility of your listing!

We’ll show you three tips to make your listings more competitive and attractive during the current crisis.

Tip 1: Be visible across multiple channels

This pandemic has turned everyone’s moving plans and business activities upside down. Young professionals and students’ hands are tied, and they’re forced to cancel their moving plans; therefore, property owners are experiencing a steep decrease in demand.

As a property owner, it’s time to break your boundaries and open up your business to more partners. With this current dip of demand across all platforms, a sense of cohesion and working with each other – not against each other – is key. HousingAnywhere does not believe in exclusivity. Instead, we suggest you make sure your listings are visible across a variety of channels. Here are some options you could consider:

  • Traditional rental agencies.
  • Other online rental platforms similar to HousingAnywhere.
  • Housing groups on social media, especially Facebook.

Most importantly, when you’re looking through your current and prospective channels for advertising your listings, you should pay close attention to their pricing plan. During times of uncertainty, you might want to minimise your fixed costs as much as possible. Therefore, avoid using channels with a fixed pricing plan (e.g. monthly subscriptions) and instead switch to commission fee-based platforms, so you’ll only pay upon success!

Advertising your listings on a wider range of channels will reward you with more visibility and higher chances of getting your place booked.

Consejo 2: Switch to a flexible cancellation policy

With the uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions and without having a clear picture of their future, many tenants are hesitating before booking accommodation.

For property managers, the terms & conditions protect their business from last-minute cancellations. However, during this crisis it is more important than ever to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers. You’ll quickly find out what tenants value the most: flexibility.

If you have a strict cancellation policy in place it might be worth switching to a more flexible or moderate one. Keep in mind: after we overcome the crisis, you can always go back to your original cancellation policy. A tenant-friendly policy where tenants can change their move-in/ move-out dates gives the tenants peace of mind and the confidence to confirm the booking.

Also, a flexible cancellation policy truly makes your listings more competitive! Make sure you highlight it at the beginning of your description, so tenants will be able to see your cancellation policy at first glance.

Tip 3: Open your listings to a wider audience

To stay more competitive in times of lower demand, it might be worth reconsidering your current rental preferences. It’s all about filling potential vacancies as soon as you get the chance to. Why not open your listing up to a wider audience? You could drop your minimum stay policy and accept tenants for a shorter or longer rental period than usual.

Also: Have you adapted your tenant preferences yet? If you adapt your criteria regarding the tenants’ age limits, gender or working status, your listing would be exposed to a wider audience – and your next booking might be just around the corner, from a tenant you wouldn’t usually expect!

No viewings and online payments: here’s how we can help you

In case you hadn’t already, it’s really now the ideal time to switch your offline rental business online. Online viewings are the most social distance-friendly approach and will prevent you from meeting multiple tenants that may or may not book your property. Once you put some effort into creating a compelling description and adding high-quality media such as videos, photos and floor plans, it will save you time in the long run! Appealing and accurate listings will give the potential tenant a clear picture of their potential home – making an in-person viewing redundant! Not only will you save time and energy, but you’ll also protect your safety and your potential tenant’s with this social distancing-friendly solution. Read more on how to work with no in-person viewings here.

At HousingAnywhere we’ve tried to make your Rent Collection as easy and effortless as possible. Thanks to our Payment Request feature, you can send your tenants requests for payments of all sorts: deposits, furnishing costs, monthly rent, and so on. No need to meet them in person, and no need to chase them down: our system will automatically send reminders to your tenants in advance of the due date. Learn more about our Payment Request feature in this article.

Finally, we want to advise you to take some time during this crisis to optimise your property and your listing. Even if you’re not currently hosting tenants, you can still use these weeks to improve the quality of your listings by adding a floor plan and videos or updating the description, in order to come out of these difficult times even stronger than before. We wish you the best of luck with your rental activity. Don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any questions: our team is always here to support you. Check out the articles below for more information!

Reliable Sources

As the pandemic shakes the world with uncertainty, keep your peace of mind and avoid false information by only relying on official sources and statements:

World Health Organization

European Commission

European Center for Disease Prevention and Control

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