Touring, leasing, and moving into an apartment looks a little different nowadays. The COVID-19 pandemic has made venturing outside our homes riskier than ever, but despite the health hazards, many renters have found themselves at the tail end of their lease and in need of a new place to live.
So landlords are doing their best to keep the rental process moving along, despite the challenges.
“As property managers, we are still adjusting to all of these sudden changes,” says Fernando Avila, a property manager, broker-salesman and Realtor® for Atlas Group LC in Las Vegas, NV.
Some of those common changes include offering comprehensive virtual apartment tours and closing common-area amenities, like fitness centers, pools, and business centers. What else would landlords and property managers like renters to know? Read on for insight into how they are trying to make the renting process a little less precarious in this uncertain time.
1. Safety is a priority
While relocating during this period may seem scary, property managers want to reassure current and future tenants that they take the safety of apartment communities very seriously.
“There are tens of thousands of property management professionals across the country—including leasing staff, maintenance workers, concierges, and parking and security teams—that have shown up to work every day through this pandemic to keep apartment communities functioning and to ensure residents’ safety,” says Najam Syed, head of asset management for Brightline Trains and Parkline Communities in Miami, FL.
He says some of the precautionary measures they are taking include installing automatic door openers to allow secure, touchless entry and putting antimicrobial coatings on high-traffic surfaces.
2. Keep the lines of communication open
In times like these, there is no such thing as over-communication. Landlords and property managers want future tenants to know they’re listening and that they understand renters may have some concerns when considering a new property.
“Communication continues to be key. When applying, a simple conversation with us will give the applicant a better understanding of what can be expected and if the property is the right fit,” says Avila.
3. Essential jobs are a plus
With each week, more states are opening up and sending more people back to work to join essential personnel. But in tough economic times, landlord and property managers want to be sure that potential renters have the income and employment to make their monthly rent.
“Unlike before, applicants with an essential job are easier to qualify, since we know income for them is more feasible,” says Avila.
He says his company still screens and processes applications as it did before, wanting to see reasonable proof of income, a good rental history, and an acceptable credit score.
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4. Move-ins are safe
Many renters may initially have some trepidation about the entire moving process—and chiefly whether or not they can still hire a moving company. Moving companies are considered essential services.
“If you are considering relocating to an apartment community, housing moves can be completed in a responsible manner, now that social distancing is an accepted and promoted practice,” says Syed.
Many moving companies are following such procedures as disinfecting their vehicles daily; requiring movers to wear face masks and shoe coverings; washing their hands for 20 seconds upon entering your home; and immediately putting on single-use gloves.
Syed says his property has implemented move-in policies that observe social distancing.
5. Landlords want to better serve you
Finding an apartment in the age of COVID-19 may require some extra leg work on the tenant’s part, but property managers want us to know that they are making a lot of changes to ensure the health and happiness of tenants during the new normal.
“We have redesigned leasing tours, optimized office layouts, and socially distanced communal and co-working areas,” says Syed.
He says that for new developments, property managers are seeking to maximize outdoor green space, and are considering upgrades to HVAC systems, installation of antimicrobial finishes, and reviewing common space usage and furnishing.
“Before you choose to call a community your home for the next 12 to 14 months, it would be prudent to review its COVID-19 response to see if the service level matches your expectations,” he says.
6. Wanted: New tenants
Nothing drops rent prices quite like a global pandemic, or so it seems in many markets throughout the country. Landlords want to fill vacancies, which means they can be willing to price down their units or offer incentives, such as a month of free rent or waiving a deposit.
“In response to employment declines in most major cities, some communities are offering meaningful discounts on immediate move-ins,” says Syed.
“Just like cars, furniture, and publicly traded stocks, apartments are also on sale.”
That might be the silver lining if you have to move right now.