On March 17, 2020, British Columbia declared a state of emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, our efforts to flatten the curve have taken centre stage in our print and television media communications. Given all of this discussion, how can landlords and tenants manage their own conversations about COVID-19? Below are a number of tips for both landlords and tenants during this unprecedented crisis.
- Communicate regularly with your tenants
Make sure that your tenants know how you are handling this crisis, relay best practices regarding building hygiene and safety precautions, and clearly communicate steps to follow in the event that a resident becomes diagnosed etc.
- Be proactive, not reactive
Rather than wait to hear from your tenants, consider reaching out to your tenants via email or give them a call to check in and see how they’re doing. If a tenant advises that they will likely not be able to pay all or a portion of their rent, then you can start coming up with a plan as to what can be paid now and how the balance will be paid in the future.
- Put pen to paper
If you and your tenant reach an agreement with regard to a payment plan, reduced rent or deferred rent, put it in writing. This step is perhaps self-explanatory and benefits both landlords and tenants. Whatever deal is done should be clearly spelled out.
- Communicate with your landlord
Review your financial situation with your landlord and seek out financial assistance as soon as possible. Remember that your rent keeps the rental building running, and long-term plans are needed to address any rental shortfalls.
- Let your landlord know about any changes to your financial situation
Given that social distancing will be required for the foreseeable future, ensure that your landlord is kept apprised of any changes to your financial situation which may impact what rent you can pay over the coming months.
- Mark it down
Keep a record of what you have offered to pay your landlord and what you have actually paid your landlord. It is also recommended that tenants follow up any conversations with an email confirming what was said and/or agreed upon.
At the end of the day, in a world dependent on social distancing, landlords and tenants are still going to have to come together to find solutions. The literal door may be closed, but the lines of communication should always remain open.