COVID-19 guide & resources for landlords

Though the situation changes daily, it is clear the coronavirus pandemic will continue to have an effect on the rental industry in the coming months. As a landlord, you may be finding it difficult to manage the new challenges presented by COVID-19.

This article pulls together a COVID-19 guide & resources for landlords like you. No matter what situation you are facing due to the ongoing pandemic, you still have options. It might not seem like you do, but there are ways to handle everything from evictions during coronavirus to your mortgage payments.

By taking some time to familiarize yourself with the types of legislation and help that may exist to assist you, you will be better prepared to successfully stay in the rental business. These are trying times; find the right tools to help you find solid ground.

Coronavirus Guide For Landlords Table Of Contents

COVID-19: Understanding The Ongoing Crisis

COVID-19: Understanding The Ongoing Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a serious issue for small business owners like you as well as renters, like your tenants, suffering from the changes. Thinking about COVID-19 can be scary for anyone, especially for those who don’t understand the nature of this illness or why it is such a threat.

The best way to stay informed about the ongoing pandemic is to rely on government and qualified resources.

The following resources are updated regularly to cover the latest information. Keep them on file for when you need them most.

Beyond these four pages, the CDC’s COVID-19 website is full of detailed information about the illness, the symptoms, treatment, the potential vaccines, and much more. If you want to be more informed about the virus, the CDC website is a great place to start reading.

COVID-19 Guide & Resources For Landlords

Landlords like you are in a very difficult position during this pandemic. With so many people facing health and financial troubles due to the pandemic, your business is being heavily affected because of this.

Do you know what types of protections are being enacted to help tenants and landlords? The following coronavirus resources for landlords can help you to be informed and better manage your rental business during this difficult period.

Mortgages And Lender Protections

Many landlords have mortgages or other money loaned to them from various lenders. It is very important you stay in close communication with your lenders to find out what options you have for relief due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mortgage Forbearance And Deferral

Lenders across the country are offering various types of mortgage forbearance and deferrals. The specifics of both of these arrangements vary from institution to institution, but both setups would allow you to delay or limit your payments during the pandemic.

The following resources can help you to find out what your mortgage and lending options are:

  • ABA’s List Of Banks & Their Coronavirus Responses
    The American Banker’s Association has put together a complete list of banks and their public response to the ongoing pandemic; check this alphabetic list for your lenders.
  • Contact your lender directly, or search their website, for their specific coronavirus response.

It is important to remember that forbearance does not cancel payments; it delays them. When you speak with your lender, be sure to discuss the specifics of repayment options and when the delayed payments will be owed so that you can plan accordingly.

CARES Act Mortgage Forbearance

The government included specific provisions for mortgage forbearance of federally-backed mortgages in the original CARES Act, and that forbearance period has been extended to December 31, 2020 as of writing this guide.

Under the CARES Act, qualified property owners can:

  • Request 180 days of mortgage forbearance
  • Apply for up to 12 months of additional forbearance at the end of each 180-day period

Convention loans under Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as government-backed loans, are eligible for forbearance under the CARES Act.

To find out the latest information about the CARES Act and to analyze your mortgage forbearance options in more detail, visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website.

For the latest industry updates on federally-backed loans, visit the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s COVID-19 Mortgage Assistance Page.

Federal Eviction Protections

Across the country and the world beyond, evictions and foreclosures have essentially been put on pause. As a landlord, this can be very scary. What are you supposed to do if the rent payments stop coming in?

Understanding The National Eviction Moratorium

After the national eviction moratorium was set to expire, the CDC enacted a new national eviction moratorium through December 31, 2020. This moratorium requires tenants to show that they would be put into unreasonably risky situations due to the eviction; the intent of the moratorium is to limit the unnecessary movement of people.

It is important to note the eviction moratorium only applies to situations where nonpayment of rent would be the reason for eviction. You can still legally file for eviction for other actions that break the lease terms as long as your local and state government do not have any additional moratoria in place.

Additionally, the eviction moratorium does not dissolve the tenant’s obligation to pay rent. Ultimately, they will be responsible for paying the entire amount of overdue rent, with appropriate late fees, down the line.

What To Do If Rent Isn’t Paid

What should you do if your tenant is not paying rent on time?

Contact your tenant and discuss the late payments with them. Find out if they intend to pay rent soon or if they are in a difficult situation because of the pandemic. If you can set up a partial or delayed payment plan you and your tenant are both satisfied with, get the arrangement in writing and move forward.

If the tenant cannot pay, connect them with resources that may help them, and in turn, help you collect the rent you are owed:

  • State unemployment or pandemic relief agencies
  • State or local rent relief programs
  • National rent assistance programs

Rent Assistance Program Lookup is a great program to use to look up local programs that might be able to help your tenants to make ends meet. Show this site to your tenants, and let them know that new programs are constantly being created so they should check back frequently.

No matter what option you take, make sure you keep clear documentation of what is paid, what is owed, and what both you and the tenant have agreed to. This may be very important down the line.

State Eviction Protections

In addition to the national eviction moratorium set up by the CDC, many states and municipalities have their own guidance on eviction and how landlords should proceed during the pandemic. In some cases, the rules set out by the states will override the CDC guidelines.

As there may be updates about these protections at any time, this guide will only include links to the primary COVID-19 response resource for each state. To find out what the current rules and guidelines recommend for you, scroll to your state, and then visit the listed resources.

From each page, you can find additional, state-specific assistance resources:

Other Delayed Evictions During Coronavirus

Other Delayed Evictions During Coronavirus

While the CDC guidelines ensure that all nonpayment of rent evictions caused by COVID-19 are going to be delayed, it is possible that other types of evictions will be delayed as well.

Most state guidance on evictions limits delayed evictions to those caused by nonpayment of rent, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be able to proceed with an eviction case for other causes. In many areas and states, the courts are still seeing a limited number of cases, and eviction cases have been pushed to the backburner.

If you have an eviction you would like to pursue that is unrelated to nonpayment of rent or the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s what to do:

  1. Follow standard eviction proceedings ASAP.
  2. Look up your local court system, and find out what the court’s status is.
  3. Contact the court to find out if you are permitted to file for eviction unrelated to the nonpayment of rent.
  4. Proceed according to your local court’s direction.

Since eviction hearings and cases are handled at the local level, the information is going to vary depending on where you are located. In most areas, courts are hearing some eviction cases, but there may still be a longer delay than usual in handling these cases. The only way to know what your next step should be is to contact your municipality.

Forcing the situation will not do you any good in the long run. Have patience and stay on top of your documentation to ensure you will regain control of your property in due time.

Additional COVID-19 Resources For Landlords

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every sector in one way or another, and that means there are many other areas where you may be affected. Landlords are notoriously involved in many different sections while they do business, and this means there is even more for you to be aware of during the pandemic.

The following resources may be able to help with additional support, information, and management during these difficult times:

  • Small Business Relief by Goldman Sachs
    This page, updated regularly by Goldman Sachs, gives an overview of various types of small business relief you may be eligible for.
  • National Apartment Association Website
    The NAA updates their website with pandemic-related information for apartment owners as well as ideas on how to succeed in the current emergency situation. You can also search for “state/city landlord association” to find more specific local information.
  • Government Disaster Assistance Program
    Here, you can find information about the ongoing small business assistance program run by the federal government for disaster relief.

Maintaining Your Properties And Tenant Relationships

Despite the complications of the ongoing pandemic, eviction moratoriums, and the uncertain future of the rental industry, it is important that you do your best to maintain your properties as well as your relationships with your tenants.

This situation is trying for you, but it is also trying for them. Keep a list of resources on hand that you can provide to tenants who are sick, struggling to make ends meet, or otherwise struggling due to the pandemic. By working together to find a solution, the effects of the pandemic on the community can be lessened.

Even if they will still need to pay rent at the end of the day, it doesn’t hurt to empathize with the situation they are in. Reminding your tenants of the rules while also being kind is possible. Ultimately, the hope is that your tenant will be able to catch up on payments, and your landlord-tenant relationship will be stronger than ever before.

Save This Coronavirus Guide For Landlords

While the future may hold a lot of uncertainty due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is for sure: things are going to keep changing!

Don’t focus on trying to figure out exactly what things will look like a few weeks or months down the line. There’s no way of knowing that. Instead, focus on gathering up the resources that are available to you to ensure you are as prepared as possible for whatever happens.

Save this guide, and you will have access to the outgoing links. Using municipality, state, and government websites linked here, you will be able to stay on top of the most recently updated information at all times.