Being a Florida Landlord During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dealing with Tenants During COVID-19 in Florida
As of November 2020, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was pegged at 6.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since the unemployment rate reached a high of 14.7 percent in April, the country has struggled with gradually reopening the economy amid rising COVID-19 cases.
The so-called “return to normal” or adoption of a “new normal” has been painfully slow and continues to haunt various economic sectors, including real estate.
The many layoffs, furloughs, and widespread economic uncertainty have led to millions of American tenants struggling to pay rent.
Landlords, meanwhile, are still unsure as to how they can meet their own financial obligations. These include mortgage payments on their rental property, insurance, and taxes.
As a landlord in Florida, you need to be able to strike a balance between considering the plight of your tenants and ensuring you can meet your financial obligations. Of course, this is easier said than done, given the uncertainty of the times.
Coronavirus Relief and Eviction Protection
A previous U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order which halted some evictions would have expired last December 31, 2020.
But with the relief package signed by President Donald Trump last December 27, tenants behind on their rent get extended eviction protection until January 31, 2021. Also, rental assistance amounting to $25 billion for those who have lost their livelihood because of the pandemic forms part of the economic relief package.
An analysis of Census Bureau data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that around 9.2 million renters lost employment income during the pandemic and are behind on rent.
So, in the absence of rent relief or an eviction protection extension, millions of struggling renters would be facing eviction yet again. For now, tenants are protected from eviction until January 31. But what happens after? And what can landlords do to deal with nonpaying tenants?
Nonpaying Tenants and Eviction Issues
With evictions across the country having been confirmed by a UCLA study as responsible for over 400,000 COVID-19 cases and 10,700 deaths, you may be struggling with the right course of action to take as a landlord.
Besides, with nearly 10,000 eviction filings across the country as far back as September last year, local courts would have their work cut out for them, and landlords may be in for a long wait.
Nonpaying tenants are a typical landlord problem. However, with the pandemic and the months of unemployment that has plagued millions, it’s a particularly tough spot to be a landlord.
During these unprecedented times, it’s best to open the lines of communication and talk to your tenants. One thing you can do is to agree upon a rent payment plan specific to the situation of each tenant if you have more than one rental property.
Make sure to come up with a realistic plan that each tenant can adhere to, instead of forcing full payments that won’t be met when rent is due. Document everything and sign your agreement after reviewing the terms together with your tenant.
Financial Obligations and Possible Solutions
Mortgage payments, property taxes, and home insurance are pressing expenses a lot of landlords need to consider. To make these expenses manageable, try the following tips:
- Talk to your mortgage provider. If you anticipate problems with meeting your mortgage payments, it’s best to know your options. You might be able to negotiate payment terms, but come prepared with proof of rental income losses.
- Visit your municipal tax office. Drop by the municipal tax office and ask about the possibility of tax deferment or a viable payment plan for your property taxes.
- Work with your insurer. Revisit your insurance policy and work with your insurance provider on revising it. Who knows, you might even get a chance to have a more viable payment plan and get late payment fees waived.
- Check if you qualify for any small business benefits: If you’re a landlord whose business is registered and you have less than 500 employees, you could be eligible for small business grants and payroll protection.
There’s absolutely no harm in trying the above advice to make your life a bit easier during these difficult times.
Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean you’ll stop entertaining prospective tenants looking to move into your neighborhood.
But with Florida being effectively put in the “red zone” by the White House due to the number of COVID-19 cases, you need to ensure the safety of viewings or inspections.
Observe the following precautions for safe house inspections and other similar activities:
- Disinfect your property according to CDC guidelines, and be prepared to provide PPE supplies (e.g., disposable masks and gloves) to guests who come without disposable face masks or gloves.
- Set appointments online and collect guest contact information electronically.
- Provide guests with safety information and guidelines they must observe while inside your property.
- Put up a poster containing safety information and reminders, such as wearing face masks while on the premises.
- Have someone present (e.g., your broker) to check if guests are adhering to COVID safety guidelines.
- Keep the doors propped open or have someone onsite to open the door for those entering or exiting the premises.
- Ensure the property is well-ventilated by opening all windows.
- Open all doors to reduce the need to handle doorknobs and handles.
- Ask everyone to follow a route around the property and maintain physical distancing at all times.
- Require the wearing of face masks and gloves within your property.
- Hold conversations or Q&As outside your property.
- Provide soap and water, and place hand sanitizer in strategic sections of your property.
- Instruct guests to dispose of used PPE in trash cans placed outside the entrance/exit.
- Discourage guests from touching surfaces unless absolutely necessary.
- Disinfect surfaces after guests leave.
Quick Cash Sale — A Boon for Stressed Landlords
Fulfilling your role as a landlord in Florida and a compassionate human being is tough with the pandemic still around. Even with nonpaying tenants, you need to exercise utmost patience and avoid evictions whenever possible. However, you also need to take care of your own financial needs and obligations.
Aside from the above tips, another option you might want to consider is selling your property for cash. By selling your rental property to cash buyers like Take Flight Home Buyers, you can say goodbye to the stresses of being a landlord.
You’ll also have the resources you need to manage your own financial obligations. If you have several rental properties, selling part of your real estate portfolio can relieve you of some of the challenges of managing nonpaying tenants.
What’s more, you can trust our Better Business Bureau-accredited business to give you a fair cash offer with no hidden costs or fees. Even if you think your property is decrepit, we’ll take care of everything for you. All you need to do is to reach out to us using our online contact form.
Our cash sale transactions are stress-free, simple, and straightforward, so you can go ahead and focus on regaining a modicum of normalcy in your life.
We Have the Solution for Your Real Estate Problem
Selling your house to us will give you the peace of mind you deserve. It’s a simple and easy solution that works for every situation. Complete our form and we will contact you right away!
The Best Way To Sell Your House Fast In Pensacola Florida
Take Flight Home Buyers is a top-rated home buying company in Pensacola Florida. We buy houses and land for cash in all cities of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties including Gulf Breeze, Navarre, Milton, Pace, and surrounding areas.
Whether you are trying to avoid foreclosure, inherited a property you do not want, going through a divorce, or are tired of being a landlord dealing with tenants, we can help.