Protecting Your Rental Income in a Pandemic Q&A and Resources
AAOA’s webinar, “Protecting Your Rental Income in a Pandemic”, led by Alexandra Alvarado, Director of Education, was attended by 667 landlords! Needless to say the Q&A portion was filled with great questions we couldn’t get to in time. However, we’ve provided all the answers to your questions plus resources mentioned during the webinar below. We hope this webinar can help you gain some certainty when screening tenants and filling vacancies during this uncertain time.
PowerPoint Presentation: https://bit.ly/2zJkc4I
Rent Deferral Agreement: https://bit.ly/2yhCdqv
Letter to Tenants Concerning Coronavirus: https://bit.ly/3d9MOTo
Learn more about LeaseGuaranee: https://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/leaseguarantee/
Set up online rent payments.
Check rental market rates in your area: https://www.rentometer.com/?afmc=aaoa&utm_campaign=aaoa&utm_source=leaddyno&utm_medium=affiliate
- Use Promo Code AAOA50 – $50 off Rentometer PRO Basic
- Use Promo Code AAOA100 – $100 off Rentometer PRO Standard
Please consider these answers as a continuation of the educational webinar and not legal advice. If you are confused about this topic, please seek legal advice.
Protecting Your Rental Income in a Pandemic Q&A
How do you create a virtual tour?
You can use a live meeting platform such as Zoom, FaceTime, Google Duo, or Skype or you can record a virtual tour. Here is a great tool if you want to record a 3D tour https://www.zillow.com/sellers-guide/how-to-make-a-virtual-tour-for-real-estate/
Are the forms available in English and Spanish?
We are working on this! Please subscribe to our newsletter to get notified when it’s ready: https://multibriefs.com/optin.php?aaoa
Does the LeaseGuarantee cover you if the tenant moves out before the eviction judgment?
Yes, LeaseGuarantee can cover you.
Is there a charge, and if so, what is it for you to digitize our rental application so that it can be filled out online?
There is no charge, just email [email protected] to request it!
I have a judgment. Do you all have a reputable collection company that can work in all 50 states—we cannot garnish? This is my first lawsuit in 20 years. I am in Texas.
Yes, we recommend Rent Recovery Service. You can learn more here: https://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/solutions/rent-collection/
Do you have a good idea of a web site builder for free to go digital?
Yes, https://www.wix.com/ is an easy web site builder any one can use.
Where do we get more information about LeaseGuarantee?
You can find more information here: https://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/leaseguarantee/ or you can call us at (866) 579-2262 for a free LeaseGuarantee consultation.
If landlord pays for the LeaseGuarantee is the fee per property or can you do for all the properties?
The LeaseGuarantee fee is charged for each lease agreement, starting at $199 per lease.
Do you still recommend long term leases or are month to month going to be better choice for us as landlords?
If you are in an area or have a rental type that may make it harder to fill vacancies you may want to consider a longer term lease. Month-to-month agreements are usually advantageous because in most states landlords can end them for any reason with appropriate notice. However, there may be emergency legislation in place that will not allow you to do this. On the other hand, a tenant can end a month-to-month lease at any time which could leave you with an unexpected vacancy.
Regarding showings….What if the property is still tenant occupied?
It is safest to follow social distancing rules, which may mean you’ll have to wait for the tenants to move-out. You can spruce up any existing photos you have of the place in the meantime and if you have very helpful tenants (and you provide an incentive), perhaps they can help you with virtual showings.
What’s lawyer’ last name, Steve what?
If you’re in California, you can reach out to eviction attorney Steve Williams [email protected] 510-625-0100
Can you use the Corona letter for existing tenant whose lease is not maturing?
Yes, you can provide the letter to all tenants. It’s great communication!
If I have a vacancy now and they left it clean is it safer for me to have a maid service in at my expense to document cleaning and protect me from a future law suit due to Covid 19?
Yes, using a professional cleaning service is a great way to document your cleaning procedure and show that you went the extra mile to protect the health of new tenants.
Can LeaseGuarantee only be purchased at the beginning of the lease? Say for instance the lady who found out there are pit bulls on property and cannot evict?
Yes, it can only be purchased at the beginning or at renewal.
What is my liability if a signed lease is in existence and the tenant knew that they would be losing their job prior to taking possession and never disclosed.
You don’t have any liability, but it will be difficult to regain possession at this time. Even in normal circumstances, it would be difficult to prove that the tenant knew before moving in. I would recommend having them sign a rent deferral agreement at this point. And if they don’t follow through on that, you can use it as grounds for eviction in the future.
I manage a 5-plex. If one tenant acquires the virus, do I have a duty to inform other tenants?
Yes, but you cannot disclose any information about the tenant.
Are the reduced lease signings from less applications or from landlords screening more rigorously and taking less chances due to courts being closed?
Reduced lease signings right now are from fewer people moving. Even when leases are expiring, landlords are giving tenants extension. There are fewer people searching. Also, if you have a luxury rental fewer people can afford it.
Some states limit deposits to 2 or 3 times the month rent. Does LeaseGuarantee count towards the maximum amount a landlord can charge for security deposit if the tenant pays?*
LeaseGuarantee is not a security deposit so you can charge the maximum security deposit and also LeaseGuarantee.
So it’s recommended to show the unit to prospective tenants using a live feed like zoom? And to possibly conduct interview at the same time?
Yes, you could certainly do that. However, you may want to speak to the tenant first if going to the rental isn’t convenient for you. You can also record a virtual tour and send it to interested tenants.
Does the LeaseGuarantee last through the entire tenancy, no matter the length?
LeaseGuarantee lasts for 12 months and can be renewed. It’s up to you if you want to renew.
If they notified you in April but no notification for May – should you call them or wait for notification. If you call and they refuse to discuss with you – what is the result?
It may be a good idea to have them sign a rent deferral agreement. If they do not pay rent, you can begin the eviction process when legally possible.
Should you request payment prior to expiration of lease on the deferral agreement?
Yes, you could. It depends on when the lease is expiring and it depends on any legislation in your area that may limit when you can start requesting payment.
If the lease states that the lease can be renewed or goes month to month. Just letting it go month to month is ok?
Yes, if the lease has ended you can ask the tenant if they want to renew for a longer term, but you can also choose to let it remain month-to-month.
I thought I heard you say that you can’t ask for a SSN on an application in CA?
You can ask for it, but you cannot require it and then decline them if they do not have one. Consider asking them for an ITIN instead. Many people who do not have an SSN may still pay taxes and receive an ITIN. An ITIN can be used instead of an SSN for a credit and background check.
If tenant does not notify you in writing that they cannot pay, I assume that they should pay?
Yes, you can assume that, but you may want to bring it up, so they are aware you’re willing to work with them.
If tenant does not notify that they have more people than what they indicated in their application. If something happened (i.e. hurt) to one of the persons not on the application, am I responsible?
If a tenant sneaks someone into the rental they are creating additional liability for themselves and that guest is not afforded the same rights as the tenants responsible for the lease. It’s a good idea that everyone of legal age signs the lease.
What do you recommend for prospects who insist on an in-person tour after seeing the virtual tour? They are not comfortable with signing a lease without seeing it first.
It’s best to follow social distancing protocols that have been implemented in your area to reduce your liability.
For income, I previously desired 3x’s monthly lease amount. What is a reasonable amount of income, assuming they have reasonable savings on their bank statement?
This will depend on what you feel comfortable with, what their total monthly debt payments are, and cost of living in your area. Seeing several months of income saved is always a plus.
Aside from landlord and employment references, do you recommend using personal references? If so, what types of questions should we ask?
You could ask for personal references, but they may be biased. Try to find a personal reference from a reliable source, not just someone who is a friend or family member. I gave the example of giving a reference from my professor when I applied for my first rental, since I didn’t have any previous landlords or employers.
I have sudden plumbing repairs and the tenant is refusing to let my plumber in due to virus situation. Should I let her be or?
If it’s an emergency repair that must be done for the habitability and safety of the property, you do have a right to fix it. If it’s something that can be put off then it’s best to wait.
To confirm the LeaseGuarantee only kicks in if I get a successful eviction? What happens if the tenants signs the form for consent and vacant, do you still reimburse?
Yes, you can still get reimbursement, but you would need to obtain a court judgment for unpaid rent or damages. This is usually handled by a small claims court in most jurisdictions.
I have a vacant unit. A couple came and are interested. One tenant has 580 credit score and other is mid-700s. Should I consider them during these tough times? Also, what if I cannot speak to a landlord for the referral?
Yes, you can consider them and get LeaseGuarantee for the tenant with the better credit score, as it will be more likely that they will qualify and have a lower rate. If you can’t find a landlord, you can at least see if they have any proof to show timely rent payments, possible through a bank statement.
Is it better to purchase the LeaseGuarantee or bring a co-signer in with good credit with the previous example?
Having a co-signer can still be risky during these times, so it’s good to do both! Even if the tenant does not qualify for LeaseGuarantee, you can bring on a co-signer that does qualify and have them get LeaseGuarantee. Then, you’ll have even more protection.
Just yesterday found out tenant has 3 pitbulls. She was not allowed to have pets. If we serve 3 day notice, then she does not remove dogs, we cannot right now start eviction. What can we do in the meantime?
You may want to consider adding a pet addendum that states the tenant’s responsibilities and rules for how they should manage pets. This could be a temporary exception to your policy due to the virus.
What would be a logical agreement for ‘rent payback’ if a tenant cannot pay now… 50% of back rent each month until they are caught up or?
It depends on the tenant’s financial situation and when they will regain the ability to pay. You should create a plan that makes sense. 50% may work well for some tenants, but for others it may be too much. Take their new income and the current rent into consideration.
In California, if you do not ‘renew’ a lease, does it just keep going indefinitely (if you do not give your tenant a notice of non-renewal)?
Terminating a lease in California has been limited due to AB1482 which went into effect on January 1, 2020. We’ll be doing a whole webinar on it. You can register here: https://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/webinars/california-statewide-rent-control-ab-1482/