The United States Congress (as well as any number of state, city, and county legislatures) have been at work on various pandemic relief efforts (as they should be). As these efforts go forward, the apartment management industry needs to be aware the next set of legislative initiatives that might, for example, mandate that property owners accept rent payment plans as well as change how community amenities are paid for by residents.
For example, in an effort to help residents impacted by COVID-19, legislatures (such as the D.C. City Council) are considering and will likely adopt proposals to help residents pay bills, including allowing residents facing financial hardships because of the novel coronavirus to pay missed rent in monthly installments. While I previously noted that as a good management practice during this time, leasing offices should reach out to residents to discuss payment plans, the D.C. City Council is now requiring it. Other proposals are that residents be permitted to pay their utilities via payment plans as well as extending the hold on evictions. (Again, nobody wants to evict anybody – but most properties have mortgages and owners need to pay their banks as well as taxes, insurance, and our employees).
I am also starting to see plans which would require landlords who charge fees for certain property amenities to offer prorated refunds for services or featured amenities no longer available because of the pandemic (such as fitness centers, party rooms, and/or playgrounds). To date, however, I have not seen legislation directing rent reductions if those amenities are included in the monthly rent. At least not yet.
I will continue to follow along and report as appropriate.
Just A Thought.