When everyone is trying to social distance, it can feel like parts of our lives have stopped in place. However, the mechanical features of a home do not stop just because we do! There are just as many shingles that fall off, plumbing issues, and flooded basements as there are during any other year. As professional Winter Garden property management, we know all too well that we can't put our most essential repairs on hold—even when crises arise.
When deciding what to do and what to change, you need a plan that will work for you as a landlord while helping your tenants understand your reasoning. Here are some steps to use to make sure that you maintain social distance while keeping your rental properties in working order.
Please note: This blog post is not legal counsel or medical advice. When you need to develop a working relationship with your renters that requires hands-on legal guidance, speak with a competent attorney or your Winter Garden property partner at Verandah Properties!
Decide on Your Priorities and Publish Them
When it comes to "essential" and "non-essential" maintenance, work to compile a list of what may be delayed and what will be handled as usual. You know the most common kinds of repair and maintenance that you tend to handle as a landlord, or you can consider what the experts in Winter Garden property management tend to cover if you're a newly-minted investor. Once you've made these choices, make sure to publish it in a way that gets out to all your tenants, be that through an email or a conversation on the phone.
Emails are preferable because they allow you to more easily document the fact that you sent one, and more documentation is always better than less during times like these. The critical point, though, is that you've got a policy—and you're sticking to it for all tenants. The goal is to make sure that some tenants don't have long delays on needed repairs while other tenants get everything addressed immediately. When you don't clearly outline any changes, you can mislead tenants into thinking that some preferential treatment is happening. With a clear policy, you can point out why you're doing what you're doing.
Share the Policy Transparently, So Tenants Aren't Surprised
While you might assume that all of your tenants will read a post on a Facebook page or website you run for your landlord business, they often do not.
- Make sure that you are using the tenants' preferred methods of communicating with them so that they aren't surprised when a maintenance request must be delayed.
- During social distancing, there is likely to be less tenant-to-tenant communication even if your properties are close to each other, so make sure that you do some checking, through texts or phone calls, to make sure that anyone who submits a maintenance request that will be delayed understands why this is happening.
- Your communication may seem like overkill, but proactive discussion can be much better than angry phone calls after the fact.
Handling Repairs During Social Distancing
For repairs that simply must proceed, there are still some useful guidelines for handling them with social distance in mind. Here are just a few potential ways to help keep your tenants, maintenance professionals, and all the other people they interact with safe.
- Work to schedule necessary maintenance appointments during times when the tenants might be out, even if they are out for a walk or getting groceries.
- Arrange for the tenants to spend time in one part of the home while the maintenance worker evaluates the other part of the home.
- Make sure that maintenance workers have the necessary PPE they need to enter any of your Winter Garden rental homes safely.
- Ask that both tenants and maintenance workers who feel sick to delay their interaction and maintenance work until their symptoms have passed.
Not all of these may be necessary given the situations in your rental properties, but the more cautious you can be, the safer your tenants and maintenance workers will be.
Property Managers Can Take the Stress Out of Maintenance for You!
While you as a landlord may be able to handle this kind of maintenance work on your own, especially if you only have one or a few properties, this work is just easier with professional Winter Garden property management. Verandah Properties, in particular, works hard to communicate clear policies to tenants while protecting both repair workers and tenants from the possibility of virus spread.
Partnering with a property manager will be a load off your shoulders and will be a way to keep your landlord business on track while we social distance. A great way to get started on applying our insight for free is by downloading your copy of our Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook!