What Can a Landlord Do During COVID-19?
Many landlords are wondering what exactly can and can’t be done during this COVID-19 outbreak. You will find the best resources on our COVID-19 page. Here is a simple guide to help know how to move forward during this time.
While rental property owners are able to continue operating their rental units as vacancies occur, with some restrictions in place, work performed on occupied units should be limited to those things which are absolutely necessary to ensure the health and safety of renters and property. In everything you do, remember to practice social distancing and keep everything as sanitized as possible.
Can I turn over my recently vacant unit?
Yes, you can go in and turn your unit to get it rent ready. This includes any cleaning that may need to be completed. One thing to keep in mind is, during this time it may be difficult to get a contractor out to the unit if there is work beyond cleaning that needs to be done.
Can you still advertise and show your unit?
Yes, you are able to continue to advertise your unit as normal. There are a number of ways to advertise your unit online. Advertising online allows prospective tenants to view and apply for your unit from the comfort of their home.
Showing your unit at this time may get a little tricky due to the social distancing rules, including that no more than two people may be in the unit at a time. If it is a smaller unit you may have to get creative on how you and the applicant move around the property. One way you can show your unit is by doing a virtual walkthrough using a video app on your phone to video chat with the applicant while you ”walk“ them through the unit.
Can I screen applicants for my property?
Yes, tenant screening is available during this time. Keep in mind that COVID-19 does have an impact on aspects of screening. The majority of courts are closed, which means that screening companies are not able to call and verify information that is not automatically returned, or are returned incomplete. Current shutdowns are also having an impact on rental and employment verifications. Even if your applicant works at an essential job, their HR department may not be open, which could prevent employment verification from being completed. While some landlords are still working, it may only be for limited time periods which will prolong the time it takes to receive landlord verifications. Be mindful of these effected areas and have a plan accordingly.
Can I meet new tenants and sign lease documents?
Yes, you can meet and sign all the move in documents needed. One way to handle this during this time would be to send the applicant all the documents to review. You could have a phone conference to answer any questions they may have once they have read the agreements. This will allow you to meet and sign the documents quickly because all the questions would have already been addressed. As always, be sure to practice social distancing protocols when physically meeting with prospective tenants. RHAWA’s Rental Management Access Portal (RMAP) is available for all members to do this process. You can find more information about RMAP here.
If your tenant is able to continue to pay rent during this crisis, you may want to set up an online rent pay option. With landlords working for limited amounts of time, this will give your tenants an extra option to pay in case they are unable to meet you during your shortened office hours. The online can be set up through RHAWA’s RMAP system which is FREE for all RHAWA members. You can find more information about RMAP here.
I hope these tips help you completely understand what you can do during this time as a landlord. RHAWA is committed to help our members and their tenants through this challenging time as much as possible. Please continue to check RHAwa.org/COVID-19 for the most up to date information.
Legal Disclaimer: Rental Housing Association of Washington (RHAWA) has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided in this post as of its publication date. However, the information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind and is subject to change as new information becomes available. RHAWA does not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this publication.
No warranties, promises and / or representations of any kind, expressed or implied, are given as to the nature, standard, accuracy or otherwise of the information provided in this publication, nor to the suitability or otherwise of the information to your particular circumstances. Your specific circumstances may present additional information not considered when this publication was created and personal consultation with an attorney is advised.