To help lessen the impact of COVID-19, we have temporarily closed our office to in-person services until further notice. Going forward, classes and events will be presented in ONLINE-ONLY format.

COVID-19 Resources and Information for Housing Providers

Posted By: Sean Martin Announcements , COVID-19 , Management , Membership ,
The Puget Sound region is presently experiencing the highest rate of COVID-19 illness in the country and the virus is impacting many elements of daily life. Decisions to cancel or postpone public events or institute building closures are done in the interest of public health but can lead to tangible impacts on people’s income and employment – particularly those who cannot go to work as a result. Housing providers are committed to supporting residents who are impacted by COVID-19 and need assistance with their housing costs.
 
To ensure the safety and welfare of our members and volunteers, RHAWA has moved all of our seminars and events to being ONLINE-only for the foreseeable future, including our Economic Forecast Summit.
 
We're also actively working with the City of Seattle, King County, and the Legislature to implement emergency rental housing measures that open the door for services and rent relief with minimal administrative delay. More information will be shared with the membership on these details as they become known.
 
RHAWA encourages its members, and all housing providers, to engage in early and regular outreach with their residents and to consider fair accommodations for those impacted by COVID-19.
 
Please see the below resources and information to assist with how you operate your rental housing during this difficult time. Managers of larger numbers of units may also reference this guide published by IREM.

Work with your residents

  • Consider alternative agreements for rent payments, or granting payment plans, should your renter  be impacted by COVID-19 and need assistance with their housing costs. Be sure to put these arrangements in writing.
  • Waive late fees and other administrative costs over the next 30-day period as this situation evolves.
  • WA State Resources for Housing Providers and Renters Impacted by COVID-19

Communicate with your residents

  • Share the latest COVID-19 recommendations and updates provided by King County Public Health.
  • Remind your renters who are sick with cold or flu like symptoms to stay at home and consult their physician.
  • If your renter is sick, ask them to defer non-emergency work orders until they have recovered to ensure the health and safety of others, including maintenance staff and other renters, and to help limit the possible spread of sickness.
  • Maintenance requests involving conditions which threaten the health, safety, or welfare of the tenant and or unit should be handled carefully, with responding workers adhering to strict procedure to minimize exposure risks, including wearing gloves and masks.
  • When responding to a maintenance request at a unit where the tenant is sick or under quarantine, it is recommended that the tenant be asked to remain in an isolated part of the unit such as a bedroom or outdoor balcony to minimize the health risk posed to staff.
  • Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) has suspended HQS Annual Inspections effective Friday, March 13, 2020 thru at least through Wednesday, April 30, 2020. SHA is reaching out directly to those who would have been scheduled for an inspection during this time to provide more information. If you have concerns that you feel need to be immediately addressed by an HQS Inspection, or if you have other concerns or questions, please contact HCVInspectionsdesk@seattlehousing.org.


General recommendations for cleaning per the CDC

Household members should educate themselves about COVID-19 symptoms and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in homes. Regular, daily, cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces in household common areas – e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks – is a best, preventative measure to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. Other methods for preventing contraction include:

  • Washing hands frequently or use a 60% or greater alcohol-based hand sanitizer if unable to wash.
  • Cover coughs with a tissue and throw the tissue away.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • If you are sick, minimize contact with others.
How to clean and disinfect surfaces:
  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products used. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
    • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
      • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
        • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
        • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
      • Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
    • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:
      • Launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely, or
      • Use products with the EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims that are suitable for porous surfaces.

If you have additional questions, please direct them to public health authorities in your area to receive the most accurate and complete information about coronavirus:


Resources for rental owners in financial hardship

The following information is based upon expert feedback provided to RHAWA by lenders, but does not constitute formal or professional advice. RHAWA is not responsible for the accuracy of this information, and members are encouraged to seek out additional information from a trusted financial professional.

While many mortgage lenders do not offer support or leniency for hardship in the case of rental property (non-owner occupied), there are other ways rental owners might free up cash to survive tough times.

  • Bridge Loans (hard money/private money loans): Short-term bridge loans provide a short-term loan using the rental(s) as collateral so that owners can cover costs, lost rents, improvements, etc. Loans are anywhere from 6 months up to a year, but rates are higher than conventional loans since they are short-term. Bridge loans are available for all rental types – single family, multi-family and large/commercial multi-family.
  • Long-term rental programs: Another option would be to refinance the property so that the owner to take cash out to cover expenses. Owners who can’t qualify conventionally or can’t wait the 30-day period may qualify for a cash-out refinance on a rental property. This option is usually only for 1-4 units and not commercial.
  • Retirement plan loans: Some employer-supported 401k plans allow taking out loans, typically at defined interest rates and a defined time for when it is required to be paid back. Unlike an early withdrawal which automatically faces penalties and taxes, you may not be charged any penalties or taxes because it’s a loan and not cashed out plan money. An additional option is those with qualifying retirement plans (Solo 401k) can take a personal loan up to 50% of the total value, or $50K maximum.

RHAWA also recommends that rental owners facing financial hardship contact their 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.

The Washington State Department of Commerce Landlord Fund Programs also provide access to reimbursements for unpaid rent.