In the chaos of the 2020 pandemic and subsequent federal eviction moratoriums, information has evolved rapidly and often, leaving both residents and property managers confused about the rights and responsibilities of all parties.
With the moratorium set to expire at the end of March 2021, it’s important to prepare for the changes it will set in motion.
1. You must communicate to residents now what an eviction moratorium is … and that it will end.
Now is the time to make sure that all residents understand what’s at stake and how you are prepared to help them:
The moratorium is not rent forgiveness.
Some residents may be operating under the assumption that a moratorium is rent forgiveness. They need to know that they still owe all back and current rent and that after moratoriums are lifted, past nonpayment can lead to evictions.
Tenants must show that they made an effort.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says tenants are supposed to make payments “to the best of their ability, up to the full amount of the rent,” so they may eventually have to show proof of their spending habits and that they made their best effort to pay rent.
One way they can do this is to establish payment plans for your residents. Encourage them to use any available stimulus or unemployment disbursements to begin paying toward back rent. By setting them up on a payment plan, you can be sure you can get some of the money owed to you on a regular basis.
2. The moratorium applies only to non-payment of rent.
If the emergency moratorium legislation feels like it has stripped you of any resources for protecting your investments, you’ll be glad to know that property managers still have the right to sue for overdue rent, even if they can’t evict for non-payment.
And they can still evict those who are violating rules. It’s important to remind residents that failure to communicate with their landlord can be evidence of non-monetary default on the lease, giving you the right to take action. For best results, communicate with residents via text messages (the most effective channel for many residents) and keep a record of all communication (in print form).
Because the penalty for violating the eviction moratorium is quite steep ($200k), we advise you to work with a qualified lawyer in the industry if you decide to take any action.
3. Prepare now for clusters of vacancies.
When eviction moratoriums are lifted, be ready with additional staff for maintenance and turnover and for the financial impact a higher rate of evictions will have.
Begin preparing a pool of candidates that will be ready to go when evictions become a reality. Affordable housing PMs, especially, need to make allowances for the additional time required for verification and move-in eligibility processes.
This is a good time to ramp up your leasing efficiency. Greater reliance on technology has been a rising trend since the pandemic began, because it allows property managers and staff to complete verifications quickly and streamline the entire leasing process for both prospects and your team. The right property management platform also provides a better experience for prospects, giving you a competitive edge in the industry.
How ResMan Can Help
ResMan offers a full suite of virtual leasing office components including:
Create and track custom resident payment plans within the ResMan property management solution. Most platforms only allow for a 30-day payment plan, but ResMan provides greater flexibility and longer plans to help you capture lost or at-risk revenue and help residents protect their credit.
Streamline and accelerate all leasing activities within an intuitive workflow that lets you automate screening, payments and integrated forms, so you fill units faster.
Reduce friction for applicants and residents and streamline back office processes when you choose a native payments system for receiving, processing and reconciling application, lease and amenity payments.
Property managers can also consider leveraging our partnership with Sight Plan: a mobile maintenance platform to streamline inspections and work orders for the uptick in turnovers you are sure to see.
**This is a developing story—watch for deadline extensions and other new information as matters evolve.**