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What Property Management Firms Are Doing to Mitigate COVID-19

From enacting social distancing rules to changing renewal policies, most property management companies have an action plan in place.

Property management companies are implementing a variety of measures to battle against the coronavirus outbreak, including enacting social distancing rules, disinfecting surfaces more frequently and increasing the frequency of how often properties are cleaned, according to a survey by Appfolio, a property management software company.

With many businesses closing and unemployment on the rise, the majority of states with shelter-in-place orders have passed regulations temporarily suspending evictions. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer multifamily property owners mortgage forbearance with the condition that they suspend all evictions for renters unable to pay rent due to the impact of coronavirus. As a result, 41 percent of surveyed property management companies report they plan to change their eviction policy due to new local regulations prohibiting evictions. In addition, 10 percent are voluntarily pausing evictions, while 29 percent more are considering such a measure. 

Overall, close to 90 percent of property management companies have developed or are working on policies related to COVID-19, regardless of their location in the country, according to the survey. There are no meaningful differences between COVID-19 hotspot states such as California, New York and Washington state and less affected states.

Here are some additional takeaways from the Appfolio survey:

  • Overall, 64 percent of property managers have enacted social distancing rules, 58 percent are disinfecting contact surfaces more frequently and 50 percent are ramping up their cleaning regimens.
  • Large property management companies are reacting quicker than smaller companies, as 69 percent of property management companies managing 500 or more units have already enacted social distancing rules, compared to 54 percent of those managing less than 500 units.
  • Property managers are also rethinking the property showing process. In all, 13 percent have halted showings altogether, while 77 percent are changing the way they handle them, according to the survey. For example, 27 percent of property managers have moved to only virtual or self-showings, displaying the rising potential of technology in the real estate sector. 
  • Renewal policies are also changing to help keep residents in their homes. Now, 32 percent of respondents report they are handling all renewals remotely and 16 percent are holding off on rent increases. Still, only 7 percent have started offering more flexible lease terms.
  • In terms of rent delinquencies, 22 percent of property managers have voluntarily relaxed their delinquency policies, while 48 percent are actively considering doing so. This trend is likely to increase as state and local governments create new mandates in response to COVID-19, according to Appfolio.

The survey results were based on responses from 3,533 property management professionals from across the country.

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