Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, with the rapid escalation of the coronavirus over the last few weeks, this is probably a worrying time for you. With so much hair-raising media coverage of late, it’s difficult to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel, or even fathom any positives to take from the situation as a whole.
As landlord insurance providers, we’re seeing a lot of excellent examples of positive landlord-tenant relationships at the moment. As a landlord, you’re in a unique position to do some good (that is, of course, if you’re able to) during this difficult time for many. You can use this time of ‘crisis’ to support your tenants and strengthen your relationship with them for when this is all over. Here are some ways which you can do that.
1) Be proactive and communicate
More or less everyone has been affected by the coronavirus in some way or another. It’s affecting people’s jobs, their homes, their livelihood and even their social lives. It’s a great idea to keep in touch with your tenants and assure them that you’re there should they have any concerns. Even if they aren’t financially affected at the moment, it can be a great way to gain their loyalty moving forward and ensure they feel supported.
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2) Provide them with a list of useful contacts
If you haven’t already, you could compile a list of contacts that they may need in an emergency. These could include advice helplines, links to the government website with information on, or a way to contact you or your letting agent should they need to urgently. This way, they’ll hopefully feel prepared and supported in a situation which would otherwise be very new to them.
3) Be flexible with tenants facing financial difficulty
If you’re worrying about the coronavirus affecting your mortgage payments, chances are, your tenants are worrying about their rent too. We’re sure that hearing the government’s plans to facilitate mortgage holidays where homeowners couldn’t pay their mortgage due to the coronavirus, was a huge relief. Why not pass some of that relief on to your tenant?
You’ll probably be aware that the government have now added a layer of protection for tenants by suspending the ability to evict them whilst the UK are in a ‘national emergency’. An additional simple message to your tenants telling them to get in touch if they have any concerns and assuring them that they shouldn’t worry about their rental, could go a long way.
4) Send a care package
Building a good relationship with tenants isn’t just about getting the legal side of things done right (although those are obviously extremely important). A good relationship can be achieved in additional ways.
If you have the time and resources, putting together a quick food/essentials package for your tenants to enjoy during this difficult time could be a considerate thing to do; especially if you have tenants who are isolating or ‘at risk’. You don’t even have to have any contact with them, just drop it off on their doorstep and let them know it’s there.
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5) Make use of technology to carry out viewings and inspections
If you have viewings or inspections booked, using technology can minimise risk to both you, your tenant and the other parties involved. You could use tools like FaceTime, Skype etc. to get the same things done that you would in person.
6) Offer drop-offs
If you know a tenant is in self-isolation, or indeed, quarantined; a nice gesture could be asking whether they need any essentials and offering to drop them off. This may not be entirely appropriate in all circumstances, but might go a long way in terms of enhancing your relationship with tenants going forward.
7) Ensure management of the property continues smoothly
As you’ll know, when letting out a property as a landlord, you’ll have various obligations in terms of health and safety, deposit schemes, selecting the best landlord insurance etc. Checking in to make sure everything is running smoothly is a great touch to show tenants that you care. It might also be helpful to acknowledge that things may be running a little behind due to the current circumstances (in terms of their tenancy), but will be picked back up when things go back to normal.
During this time of worry for many, flexibility and kindness won’t be overlooked by tenants. Not only will you be doing something to help others, you’ll also reap the benefits in the long-term; which will hopefully result in loyal tenants. Right now, it’s a good idea for landlords to focus on the long game, rather than short.
In all of this, the hard part is that the escalation of the coronavirus was completely unforeseen and the blame can’t be laid on anyone in particular. Currently, no one is winning. But as a landlord, you can certainly help others by taking steps to make a difference to their lives.
Recent media coverage showed how one NHS surgeon had been evicted from their property as the landlord was concerned the tenant may pass on the coronavirus. In a heart-warming comparison, various tenants around the country have been sharing their messages of support from their landlords (including offering rent-free periods) during this difficult time. That’s not to say that to support your tenants you must offer free rent. Just implementing different levels of appropriate support as suggested above, could be enough to show your solidarity and set foundations for an even stronger landlord-tenant relationship once this is all over.
Ask yourself, what type of landlord would you like to be?