With just a few days left in May, apartment owners, management companies, and residents are set to deal with another month of rents due in a global pandemic. The good news (I hope) is that states are starting the process of opening again with social distancing. The belief is that many employees who were furloughed or let go because of the shutdown will have jobs to come back to so they can pay their rent. A real concern, however, is that many jobs may be gone, at least in the short to medium term. While I still recommend leasing offices and residents work cooperatively and constructively to the extent the virus has caused economic uncertainty, as Congress has not acted in this area, we are left with a patchwork of state and local landlord/tenant procedures, which have (and will continue to) change monthly, weekly, or even daily.
The eviction protections enacted in many jurisdictions have either expired or will expire soon. Some cities, counties, and states have prohibited the filing of eviction complaints. Others have permitted the filing of complaints, but have stayed proceedings. I think some states will extend eviction prohibitions further into the summer, but others will not. You need to check with your specific state (or city or county) or speak with a lawyer like me to determine what is permitted where your property is located.
Also, remember that once local courts open up, I suspect there will be a torrent of new cases. We will hear stories of landlords behaving badly during the pandemic (threatening residents, intimating they will turn off utilities, remove mailboxes, or even change the locks if a resident does not pay his/her rent) as well as learning about residents who attempted to game a public health emergency by simply not paying their rent (even if they kept working or by engaging in a rent strike). Neither side will necessarily look good; but management will look worse.
We should absolutely tip our caps (again and again) to the medical and health care professionals working with patients every day. As well as to the first responders and others (including grocery store and food service workers) who kept our supply chains up and running during this most unusual time. And don’t forget to recognize the apartment management leasing team members who come to work every day to serve those who live in apartment communities from coast to coast.
Just A Thought.