None of us know how long the economy will be disrupted by COVID-19. But better to plan for the worst and hope for the best. So we encourage landlords to develop a plan now for how they will deal with tenant requests for rent relief, if and when they come. Here are things to consider and helpful resources to get you started.
If a request comes, gather and document information on the impact of COVID-19 on your tenant’s employment and financial situation. Some key questions to ask:
- Has your personal income from a job or business been impacted? Please describe the type and degree of the impact.
- Are you receiving any financial assistance to cope with the impact of COVID-19?
- What other monthly obligations do you have and are you taking steps to address those monthly payments?
- What other resources can you access to assist you in timely paying your rent?
Here are some specifics of a forbearance program you will need to map out:
- How much will you reduce rent by and for how long?
- When will payments be due in full? Will you allow your tenant to pay you back over time?
Before granting any forbearance options, make sure you have the following information up to date on each tenant:
- Do you have a signed written lease with the tenant?
- Has your lease expired?
- Confirm current, vital details on tenant, including
- Cell phone number
- Email address
- Current employer
- Whether they’ve been recently terminated or had their hours and/or pay reduced
- Current monthly income
- Emergency contact information
Make sure to document all agreements and forbearance communications. The Multi-Family Northwest Association provides free templates for Emergency COVID-19 Rent Forbearance Requests, Emergency COVID-19 Agreements, and Emergency COVID-19 Balance Reminders.
State and Local Legislation
Remember, landlord laws vary by state, so it is extremely important to get information on your area. Inman.com has a fantastic State-by-State Guide to Evictions, Rent and Foreclosures.