No one likes to think about potential emergencies. But, if you’re a renter living in Florida, there’s a seasonal hurricane threat every year. Tenants in California have earthquakes to worry about, and in the northeast, snowstorms can be pretty terrible.
There are also global emergencies like the one we’re currently experiencing. If you’re a renter who is trying to manage the current COVID-19 pandemic, we know how stressful and uncertain everything feels right now. It’s a challenge just to keep your head above water, and we understand. We feel it, too.
Today, we are here to offer ourselves as a resource to renters, whether you’re living in one of our properties or somewhere else. We have some tips on how to manage this current pandemic and how you can use what we know about crisis management to handle any future global emergencies. We hope your landlord or property manager has been responsive and attentive during this crisis. If not, feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have.
Tenant Rights and Responsibilities During an Emergency
There’s no shame in admitting you feel stressed and emotional. If you’ve lost your job, you’re not alone. If you’re working in a hospital or a medical facility, we appreciate your dedication. Maybe you’re still employed, but working fewer hours for a smaller salary. Whatever you’re dealing with right now, take care of yourself and your family first. Everything else should come second.
Even while you’re reacting to everything that’s going on around you, there are some things you need to do as a tenant. You still have responsibilities and requirements.
First, make sure you’re talking to your landlord or your property manager. This is not a good time to avoid their calls and emails. Get in touch and be open and honest. Everyone needs to communicate during a crisis.
If you’re able to continue paying rent, we think it’s very important that you continue to do so. When you can keep up with rental payments, you’ll have a lot less stress now and in the future. You won’t fall behind and you won’t be in danger of accruing late fees and other expenses. Continuing to pay your rent means that your landlord will have the resources to provide more help for the tenants who are truly struggling and without any kind of income or savings.
Most tenants are currently protected from eviction if rent cannot be paid. However, if you’re still employed, you’re going to emerge from this emergency in a stronger position when you retain as much normalcy as possible. Pay your rent. Pay your utility bills. Put a little extra into savings for future emergencies if you can.
Talk to Your Landlord about Finances
If you find you are experiencing the type of deep financial stress that prohibits you from making even a partial payment, reach out to your landlord or property manager sooner rather than later. You may be asked to put something in writing that explains and documents the financial crisis you’re experiencing because of the coronavirus pandemic. Have a transparent discussion about your situation and how you plan to recover in the coming weeks and months.
A good landlord will work with you. Together, you can come up with something that meets the needs of all parties. Maybe you can make a partial payment or maybe your landlord can move the due date out a few weeks. Perhaps a payment plan is the best course of action. Whatever you need, you can’t get it unless you’re willing to talk to your landlord.
Moving Forward: Preparing an Emergency Plan
It’s hard to think about what could possibly be coming next. We hope for some very quiet months and years once we get beyond this current crisis. However, this pandemic is an ongoing emergency, and there’s always something that could be waiting around the corner. We never really know what to expect.
Focus on the good news, which is that this is a perfect opportunity to make an emergency plan for the future. Being prepared will help you feel stronger, more in control, and resourceful. Some of the things that should go into your emergency plan include:
- Contact information for all state, local, and federal resources. This could include the hospital closest to you, all your medical contacts, the CDC, FEMA, and the Department of Health.
- Contact information for your landlord or property manager, your renter’s insurance company, your banks and creditors, and all utility companies.
- A financial plan. Write out what you will do if you lose all your salary, part of your salary, or all your savings.
No one likes to think about worst case scenarios, but planning for them can help you get through the next pandemic, an earthquake, or a job loss.
Stand Out as a Valuable Tenant
Finally, you want to be a good tenant.
Your landlord is under stress, too. So are your property managers, your maintenance workers, and your neighbors. Good tenants are transparent. They’re open and honest and willing to work together. You need to follow your lease terms and be willing to wait for cosmetic maintenance repairs that are not urgent right now.
This is a good opportunity to find the bright spots in a crisis and help out when you can. It’s easy to get emotional and self-absorbed during a crisis. Instead, find out what you can do to help.
We’re here to answer any questions about this crisis and how to plan for a future crisis. Contact our team at Tzadik Management, and please keep yourselves safe.