The Coronavirus has already impacted absolutely every industry in our nation. When the news hit of how the pandemic would affect America and Denver specifically, our priority was immediately to develop new payment policies and communicate them to our owners and residents in an effort to provide relief and certainty in a chaotic time. The public was quick to form a negative opinion of Landlords who were “demanding” rent with people out of work and we knew how important it was early on to make sure and let our Residents know we understand their hardship while still representing our Owners needs as well. With rumors of April Rent Strikes and social media ablaze with people supporting each other in not paying rent at all, our team hoped to educate our residents as much as possible and work with them for everyone’s benefit.
By April 1st, 20% of our residents had formally enrolled in payment arrangements and in fact, only one delinquent resident in the entire month of April was not paying according to a pay plan. We regularly provided assistance information and helpful instructions on accessing unemployment to residents throughout the following weeks and remained in touch with folks to make sure there was limited trouble meeting due dates, or that we were able to modify/adjust the plans as needed. Offering residents tiered payment plans and waiving late fees made sure folks were able to submit April rent payment in full before the end of the month AND that Owners are seeing no cut in the amount of their distribution with almost no delay of receipt. In addition, residents are in a better position heading into May to feel less overwhelmed by the financial demand of rent that might lead to them vacating early, etc. It’s truly a win-win.
All of our office operations switched to operate remotely on March 16th. The work we’d done in the last 2+ years to transfer all systems to a cloud-based platform made this an incredibly seamless transition. We already partnered with the software programs needed to continue to carry out all management functions including personally answering phones, collecting rents, handling maintenance requests, resident communications, and signing lease agreements.
Over the last month, we also worked to negotiate renewals early for contracts ending towards the end of this summer so that we can prepare for marketing those homes early as needed as well. With the fluctuations in the rental market and uncertain outlook for COVID-19 in general, it’s important to remain several steps ahead to avoid long-term vacancy costs. We’re currently seeing a 30% increase in renewals over 2019, which means greater continuity of income for Owners.
Information surrounding the ability to hold in-person showings fluctuated throughout April. We preemptively adjusted our software and marketing platforms in March to include digital tour options as well as extra screening questions promoting virtual showings and minimizing risk for transmission all-around. We were able to continue to market and lease properties quickly by including these options, even without being able to show occupied homes.
Beyond these efforts, we also increased our electronic communication to residents to make sure they knew our staff is available to them and provided free toilet paper to all new residents and to families in apartment buildings as it was available to us. We also continued to offer exceptional maintenance services with appropriate protective procedures in place to do our part in limiting overall risk locally.
We’re not sharing this information to boast, but because we want to be sure that you know how important it is to us that we carry out every level of our work with integrity and a commitment to doing the next right thing. If we can help you navigate the fallout of this crisis, let us know!