We’re now heading into the second week of social distancing, and it could stretch on for weeks or months. Millions of people are working from home. Landlords and rental property managers are working long hours as their tenants stay close to home, ensuring common areas are routinely sanitized and disinfected so that everyone residents, maintenance staff, delivery people alike remains safe from COVID-19.
This is definitely a stressful time for the sector. There is fear if tenants are requested to leave work, they’ll be unable to make rent. Thankfully, both the Ontario and federal governments are putting measures in place that will help assist tenants pay their rent. Ottawa has announced an emergency care benefit for self employed people, and a deferral of income tax owing until August 2020. It’s also expanded the eligibility for employment insurance. Landlords should do their best to ensure their tenants know about these initiatives.
Indeed, a key requirement for landlords during these uncertain and unsettling times is communication. Landlords value their relationships with their tenants, and it’s critically important right now to make efforts to keep all lines of communication open.
Providing regular updates as important information is released is recommended, to keep residents in the loop of all the steps being taken to reduce transmission of the virus. This might mean letting your residents know, what extra efforts on-site cleaning staff are taking to ensure the property is following the Ontario Public Health’s recommendations for cleaning and disinfection plus any other additional measures being taken by all levels of governments to assist during this time.
It would also be helpful to try to keep residents abreast of any updated maintenance policies, and the need to review maintenance and repair requests in occupied units in order to reduce risk to tenants, staff and repair contractors. It is recommended that urgent repairs should take top priority, but others may need to be deferred for the time being in order to reduce any chance of exposure.
Landlords may also want to advise their residents that they’ll be working with them to ensure their housing is secure. These are difficult times, and this could just be the beginning. It has always been important for landlord-tenant relationships to be based on trust and mutual respect. But never more so than right now.