Property managers have mobilized quickly to respond to the coronavirus threat and the subsequent economic disruption. According to a survey conducted in March by Appfolio, 90% of property managers had already crafted and executed or were in the process of executing strategies related to coronavirus. This includes rent relief, eviction and sanitation policies.
“COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation for the entire world. When we conducted this survey in mid-late March many property management companies needed to adjust quickly to the immediate challenges presented by COVID-19,” Stacy Holden, industry principal and director at AppFolio, tells GlobeSt.com. “Additionally, as property managers need to continually keep the best interests of their residents in mind, they were faced with a serious situation where they needed to take fast-action to protect their residents and employees, like sanitization, more detail to cleaning, enforcing social distancing, stopping non-emergency maintenance.”
These policies came rapidly because the impact was so significant, and questions from tenants began flooding in almost immediately as strict sheltering restrictions effectively shut down most businesses. “There were so many factors that property management teams needed to take into account that planning around COVID-19 was a clear necessity in order to stay organized and accountable to residents and all of their ensuing questions,” says Holden. “From our customers perspective we saw them leaning on things like the online resident portal, self-scheduled and self-guided showings, as well as communications tools like bulk email and texting to maintain business continuity and service levels as they adjusted to social distancing and managing teams from home.”
Within these new policies, 58% of property managers implemented stricter cleaning and disinfecting requirements and 64% were adhering to social distancing recommendations. Additionally, 41% of property managers changed their eviction policy. “The data shows that many property managers are adhering to local regulations, many of which prohibit evictions,” says Holden. “Others are proactively pausing evictions and many more are considering it. Given the fluidity of the situation, property managers may be leaning toward a flexible approach, working and communicating directly with residents to meet their needs and possible issues.”
Ultimately, property managers have dual role of driving value for the ownership as well as providing a service to tenants. “These are difficult times, and property managers see and understand that, so it is more important now than ever to deliver quality customer service that both serves the residents and businesses positively,” says Holden. “Much of that really does come down to effective communication, something that is pivotal right now as there isn’t a precedent for how to deal with this situation. Everyone is learning as they go. That said, it is important that property management teams try to communicate with their residents in convenient formats, like text and email and property management portals, in order to best track and respond to inquiries.”