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COVID-19 Resources for Landlords and Residents

March 16, 2020

COVID-19 Resources for Landlords and Residents

The outbreak of COVID-19 is having a sufficient impact in communities across out state as the Governor continues to introduce new restrictions in an effect to contain the disease from spreading. As a result, many of our residents will be unable to work due to businesses across the state being required to close having an impact on their ability to pay rent. The National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) understands this is a difficult time with uncertainty and is committed to supporting those residences who are being impacted by COVID-19 with resources and services to assist with their rent.

March 14, 2020 Seattle Mayor Durkan ordered a thirty day halt on residential evictions for non-payment of rent. Without a Federal halt on mortgages, Seattle’s halt on residential evictions harms the landlord who relies on the rental income to pay their mortgage.

I am working with local cities and legislator to create a path to provide support and services to tenants whose income and employment are being affected by COVID-19. One way forward is to open the Tenancy Preservation Fund to those residents experiencing a hardship due to COVID-19. Last year, the legislator approved $1 million dollars from the state budget and I am anticipating additional funding to be approved this week.

Last year landlords supported a new law that provides rental assistance to residence who were experiences a hardship (temporary loss of employment, etc.) and were unable to pay their past due rent, but were able to start paying rent again (new employment, etc.). These funds are made available only with a court order. The court order prevents a resident from being physical evicted. I believe this path is the best path to providing rental assistance to residence and was the unlined intent of the new law….keep resident in their homes.

Allowing residents to access to the Tenancy Preservation Fund would open the door to rental assistance for tenants by allowing their landlord to serve a notice to pay or vacate, proceed with an unlawful detainer to obtain a court order to receive funds from the Tenancy Preservation Fund. This path benefits the resident and the landlord. In additional, this continues to allow communities to renew the halt based on the needs of the community and status of the outbreak.

Further Recommendations and Reminders for Housing Providers

In addition to working with local leaders, we are encouraging our members and all housing providers to engage in early and regular outreach to their residents. Communication is key to addressing financial, health, and other hardships that can make it difficult to cover expenses like housing costs. As such, we are sharing the following reminders and recommendations for housing providers:
• Work with your residents on payment plans and agreements and be sure to put them in writing.
• Waive late fees and other administrative costs over the next 30-day period.
• Share the latest COVID-19 recommendations and updates provided by
o Washington State Department of Health
• Contact your mortgage lender about temporary mortgage relief and federal mortgage assistance to protect your credit, prevent foreclosure, and ensure your rental property remains available and on the market.

To avoid potential fair housing issues, be sure to apply all enacted company protocols to all clients. Likewise, be sure to maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) should anyone be confirmed to have COVID-19.

SHOWINGS

  • Performing electronic showings and virtual tours using technology offered by NARPM Affiliates that can assist you during this time, along with follow-up phone calls to limit public contact and to keep filling vacancies.
  • Assessing risk based on your specific location for in-person showings and instituting cleaning and disinfecting protocols in accordance with the CDC recommendations before, during and after an in-person showing.
  • Limiting your contact with others and requiring documentation regarding COVID19 before sending any staff for maintenance issues, etc.

RENT PAYMENTS | SECURITY DEPOSITS

  • Only accepting online rent payments.
  • Creating payment plans and getting any and all arrangements in writing.
  • Using technology to accept security deposits or have funds wired into a special account.
  • Keeping with the enforcement of contracts as law allows.
  • Staying knowledgeable on updated eviction laws regarding COVID-19 (laws vary – consult your legal professional).
  • If you have tenants who are voucher holders, please consult this page for information about how COVID-19 is affecting HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.
  • Getting informed about resources for rental owners who are affected by financial hardship due to COVID-19 as they become available.

MID-LEASE AND ANNUAL INSPECTIONS | MAINTENANCE

  • Requesting (but NOT requiring) that tenants let property managers know if anyone in their household has contracted the virus so that outside vendors and staff don’t enter the property to perform maintenance work or mid-lease and annual inspections. Note: remember privacy, respecting privacy and only sharing general information, not specifics.
  • Instituting strict protective procedures for maintenance workers with requests involving threatening health and safety conditions and welfare of the tenant/home conditions.
  • Putting off routine maintenance projects for future dates in single family homes.
  • Increasing maintenance and cleaning of common areas in buildings.

MOVE-OUTS

  • Mandating cleaning procedures at a minimum follow CDC recommendations.
  • Mandating a “vacancy period” before anyone enters a unit/home.
  • Performing move-out inspections separate from tenants after an appropriate “vacancy period”. NARPM® is aware of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting your daily business and encourages you to talk to other members through the Business Leaders discussion groups (https://www.narpm.org/members/discussion-boards/).

Other Valuable Resources:

Jim Henderson
Washington State NARPM Lobbyist

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LandlordSolutions does not provide legal advice. The information we provide is general information for landlords. If you need legal advice or have questions about the application of the law in a particular matter, you should consult a lawyer.

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