Right now, we are facing a troubling time full of uncertainty. Coronavirus is spreading like wildfire, people are being laid off, and no one knows if the local store has toilet paper. I, Mark Roemer, do not know what the future holds for the world, but it is my guess that we will move past this in the months and years to come.
As the first of the month rapidly approaches, more and more tenants and landlords are nervous as to what that day will bring. Tenants and landlords are equally concerned if the rent will be able to be paid. So, what can we do?
Some would say that it would be easy just to tell your tenants they don’t need to pay the rent this month. It can be sorted out after the pandemic has passed. Sadly, it is easier said than done. As landlords, we have bills to pay too. We depend on rent payments to pay our bills. Depending on how many properties you have, that can be a substantial dip in revenue. At the end of the day, the bank is going to want their mortgage payment. Should you be one of the lucky ones that do not have to pay mortgages on your rental properties, you are in a slightly better position than most other landlords out there. Even if you can avoid a mortgage payment, you will still be faced with a property tax payment at some point. So, what are we left to do?
In this blog, I am going to provide you with some ways that you can get rent from your tenants in a way that is equally beneficial to all parties.
Have A Plan
Basically, this is a precursory point. However, it is one that needs to be made. No matter what the situation, shooting from the hip is rarely the answer. When we make decisions on the fly, we generally make the worst choice possible. That being said, during these troubled times, you are going to need a plan.
It is not a matter of IF you are going to need a plan, but WHEN you are going to need it. Having a plan in your back pocket will be the answer to the rest of my suggestions. Maybe you can use the rest of my idea that I will outline below, or perhaps you use your own. Either way, have a plan and stick to it.
The rest of my steps are a lot more concrete from here on out. I just want you to remember that your tenants are people, and they are going through likely the scariest time of their lives. You never know, it could be worse than what you are going through. They may have the virus and are being forced not to work. You never know what someone else is going through, so try to keep a level head.
Before you do anything else, talk to your tenant. Empathize with their situation. We are all in this mess together, and no amount of screaming and yelling is going to get anything done. The first rule of business is to put people before profits. That being said, we still need the rent. It is impossible for us to survive without it just as much as it is impossible for them to survive without money.
Explain That Rent Is Still Due
Since as long as bills have been due, there has been a very interesting piece of human nature in play; People will only pay the bills with the most significant consequences to their livelihood. Meaning, the majority of people have struggled when it comes to funding their bills. Not all of them, just the majority of them.
This is why late fees were invented. If people have the choice of buying something they don’t need and paying a late fee, they will usually land on the side of not paying a late fee. That being said, you probably should not impose late fees during this time.
As I am sure you know, all evictions are suspended at this time. That means even if they don’t pay you, there isn’t really much you can do about it. That is not to say you won’t get your money or that you will not be able to evict them in the future, just not now.
Give Them Options
As of the time of me writing this, the government is still up in the air on who and how much money is going to be provided to their citizens. If all goes well, they may be getting some money and have the ability to pay you. Don’t forget to remind them that if they receive a payment, they do need to settle up with you.
Another suggestion that you can offer them is to borrow from a friend or family member. You don’t know where your tenants come from. They may have a parent that has money and is willing to help them out. Even if not, it is worth a try.
Emergency Rent Deferral Plan
This is the part of the article I hope your tenants don’t read. List last step is a last-ditch effort to get paid. Only use this if there are no other options available to you. So, what is the Emergency Rent Deferral Plan?
The plan is quite simple. Let’s assume your tenant owes $1,000 a month for rent. You have already established they cannot pay that much. Simply ask the tenant how much they CAN afford to pay. Let’s say this is $300. Now, that leaves them with a balance of $700 owed. The plan stipulates that the tenant will then pay ten equal monthly payments of $70 extra on their rent.
There you have it. Simple steps to get paid the rent you are owed during these trying times. I, Mark Roemer, wish you the best of luck and hope that we all come out of this soon. That way, we can get back to normal life.