The past few months have left few people unscathed in some form or another as the Coronavirus pandemic has moved across the planet. Even when very little illness has impacted a community, the tough times associated with this once-in-a-lifetime event have had far-reaching impacts, often economically.
As a landlord, you may be feeling the pinch financially as you attempt to continue your business but see that your tenants are out of work or not paying rent for other reasons. As the experts in rental management, Orlando property owners, we, too, have seen the impact of this trend ripple across the rental industry. Still, even with this looming shadow, rental payments continue to be relatively consistent according to the numbers. This spells relief for many property owners who were concerned the end was nigh.
Despite this, there are a small number of renters who may not be economically impacted, yet still refuse outright to make their payments, either out of 'solidarity,' or because they happen to belong to a league of scammers known as 'Professional Tenants.' Regardless of why you may be facing a lack of payments, you may be wondering how to address repeated and purposeful violations of your leasing agreement during a time when your access to eviction might be off the table.
While we cannot lift existing bans on evictions, we can give you some resources as you make your choices as a landlord. We want you to know what you can do during a trying time and put you in a position to grow your business when the economy begins to improve more.
Please note: This blog is not intended as legal counsel. When you need hands-on help for a situation that requires legal guidance, speak with a competent attorney or expert rental management, Orlando property owners!
Accept Circumstances Outside Your Control
Being frustrated about bans on eviction is probably not a good use of time. When possible, recognize that local and state lawmakers are doing the best they can in an unprecedented situation. Rather than wasting time frustrated about the inability to evict, focus on what you can do right now.
One element that we encourage you to refocus on is outreach to your tenants: start interacting with them and figuring out their situation. A good listening ear can sometimes be enough to restart the rent conversation, especially if you can be flexible and offer waived late fees in exchange for keeping their word on when they'll pay rent again. However, you should intend to cement any agreements you make with an addendum to your lease that binds it.
Not every tenant who would otherwise need to be evicted will respond well, but attempting to compromise and work with tenants will up your cash flow more than just being frustrated about an eviction ban.
Maintain Excellent Records of Communication and Interactions
While some tenants are genuinely in temporary hard times, others may be taking advantage of this situation, choosing not to pay their rent with the feeling that they won't be evicted. This sort of behavior sometimes comes out in interactions and communication, and if you receive messages or have conversations to this effect, take notes.
Your tenants' choices during this time still matter—especially if you choose to pursue eviction down the road. By tracking how you talked with your tenants and how they responded to you, as well as things like notices and notifications that rent is due, you can make sure that your case is the best possible one if you need to evict in the future.
Use Notices to Clearly Convey the Tenant's Situation
Many eviction proceedings may have halted, but you can still make it clear to your tenants that you intend to evict them due to their behaviors or breach of their lease's terms. Using official notices can help tenants realize that they really need to find a new situation or pay their back rent immediately to stay in the rental home.
As professional rental management, Orlando property owners, we know that sometimes the best-case scenario is just a tenant leaving of their own free will—not after an expensive eviction. If you can convince tenants who aren't paying rent to move on so that they can avoid an eviction once the ban is lifted, that may be a good parting of ways. After all, you can then rent your property to someone who will pay rent on time after that, regaining your income stream.
Proceed With Eviction Legally After the Ban Is Lifted
One important note on evictions is that, if you've served notices and started that process, you'll need to move forward with legal eviction once the ban is lifted. Your tenants may not talk to each other much, but it is very damaging to develop a reputation for threatening eviction without following through.
By only serving notices when you intend to evict and then proceeding when it is possible to do so, you make it clear that you don't issue idle threats and that your word is good.
Property Managers Can Help Throughout the Process
Professional rental management, Orlando property owners, has expertise navigating evictions in a way that will help a new or even experienced landlord. If you haven't had to evict often and now you face the delays of eviction bans, you'll want a great property manager on your side to help you navigate the challenges of this process.
Your property manager can also be an invaluable go-between, keeping your tenant communications clear without making you handle all the back-and-forth yourself. Many landlords say that they wish they'd hired a property manager sooner once they see how much benefit comes from it!
If you want a property management partner that understands your needs and can help you get through the tougher aspects of being a landlord, access our insights! Begin with a review of our Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook for just a sample of the valuable knowledge Verandah Properties offers you as a property owner!