Before 2020, it was hard to imagine a world that was essentially shut down. Quarantining, social distancing, and wearing masks were not the norm until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As you can imagine, it changed how most people lived their everyday lives, including at work. Some people switched from working in-office to working from home, while others still went to work but adapted to meet new requirements. Today, we’ll review how COVID-19 affected rental housing and post-pandemic property management.
Contents of This Article:
How Did COVID-19 Change Property Management?
The COVID-19 pandemic changed most people’s daily lives, switching from in-person interactions to limiting in-person contact, meeting virtually, and wearing a mask in public settings. Inevitably, it also changed how businesses ran, including property management in Northern Virginia.
When the pandemic surged, property managers had to learn to adjust to new procedures and regulations to stop the spread of COVID-19. Before regulations changed, the normal day-to-day procedures of property management involved addressing tenant concerns in person, giving walk-through tours, and attending important meetings.
However, everything changed when COVID-19 regulations hit in 2020. That’s when many property managers’ jobs changed from in-person interactions to reliance on technology. Unfortunately, this was difficult for the property management industry, as much of the job involved personal interaction.
New technological innovations and property management processes allowed property managers to persevere with remote operations. However, that’s not to say there weren’t struggles along the way. After all, abruptly adapting to new procedures, especially in times of high stress, can be challenging.
Struggles of Property Management During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic created difficulties for several industries, including real estate. Property management faced numerous challenges during the pandemic due to unprecedented and rapidly changing circumstances. Several changes impacted property management, from virtual communication and social distancing to eviction moratoriums. Here are some of the main struggles that property management encountered.
- Health and Safety Concerns
- Uncertain Rental Markets
- Rent Collection and Financial Hardships
- Legal and Regulatory Changes
- Adapting Management Services
- Tenant Communication
- Implementation of Technology
- Balancing Property Owner Expectations
Health and Safety Concerns
One of the main concerns throughout the thick of the pandemic was ensuring the health and safety of tenants, property managers, and owners. So, property managers had to develop and implement new management protocols, enforce social distancing measures, and manage potential COVID-19 outbreaks within properties.
Uncertain Rental Markets
The pandemic led to fluctuations in rental markets, with some areas experiencing decreased rental demand while others had more demand due to shifting population trends. During the pandemic, many people who once had an in-person job in the city decided to take their remote work to the suburbs. As such, property managers had to adapt to these changes while managing vacancies and occupancy rates.
Rent Collection and Financial Hardships
Many tenants faced financial difficulties due to job losses or reduced income during the pandemic. So, property managers had to navigate rent collection challenges, implement rent relief programs, and balance the particular needs of both tenants and rental owners.
Legal and Regulatory Changes
Eviction moratoriums and changing regulations lead to a complex legal landscape for property managers. Many landlords could not evict tenants for unpaid rent, which inevitably created huge financial problems for them. Additionally, despite government promises of rent relief and emergency funding, tenants’ and landlords’ pockets still suffered.
Adapting Management Services
With restrictions on in-person interactions, property managers had to find new ways to offer services such as maintenance, repairs, and move-ins while minimizing physical contact and adhering to health guidelines. Many services switched from in-person to remote, including virtual property tours, lease signing, tenant screening, and more.
Maintaining effective communication with tenants and creating a sense of community became challenging during the pandemic. After all, most traditional methods of in-person events were limited. So, property managers had to start relying on virtual communication tools to stay connected.
Implementation of Technology
The rapid shift to remote work and virtual interactions required property managers to quickly adapt to technology tools for various tasks, like property tours, tenant communication, and lease signings. For instance, the inability to conduct in-person showings and events impacted normal property marketing efforts. As such, property managers had to rely heavily on virtual tours and online listings to attract and retain tenants.
Balancing Property Owner Expectations
Property owners’ expectations for consistent rental income clashed with tenants’ financial challenges. It was a time of struggle for many people, who lost their jobs, got laid off, or had their hours cut back. Understandably so, frustrations were high for struggling tenants and landlords. Property managers had to mediate between these two parties to find fair solutions.
What Is Property Management Like Now?
Despite the various challenges during the pandemic, property managers had to demonstrate resilience and innovation. It was important to adapt to new circumstances and embrace new technology, all while considering the well-being of tenants. That said, the struggles during the pandemic have prompted the industry to evolve and find more efficient processes for post-pandemic property management.
For instance, the use of technology is much more prevalent now than before the pandemic. While it’s been a vital part of property management for years, it’s even more essential now as it streamlines several rental processes.
Many landlords and management companies adopted property management software to streamline various tasks if they didn’t already. For instance, it helped ensure a safe and virtual way to collect rent, track maintenance requests, and manage documents.
With the integration of artificial intelligence (AI), it’s become even easier for property managers to work efficiently. For instance, AI-powered chatbots can respond instantly to tenant inquiries and help automate routine tasks.
Additionally, another rental management practice that’s more prevalent now is the use of contactless entry systems and digital lockboxes to allow tenants and service providers to access properties without a physical key.
Post-Pandemic Property Management Tips
While things are mostly back to normal now, some protocols and norms of property management have changed permanently. If you want to learn more about navigating the new normal in property management, here are some helpful post-pandemic property management tips.
- Continue enforcing rigorous cleaning and sanitization protocols in rental properties and common areas.
- Utilize technology to maintain transparent communication with tenants.
- Embrace virtual property tours and online rental applications.
- Consider offering flexible lease terms to accommodate tenants’ changing needs and uncertainties.
- Invest in user-friendly online platforms for rent collection, maintenance requests, and tenant inquiries.
- Design properties with designated home office spaces of flexible layouts to cater to remote work needs.
- Offer resources to tenants facing financial challenges, like rental assistance information.
- To ensure strategic decisions, use data analytics to understand tenant preferences, occupancy rates, and market trends.
Choose Reliable Management With BMG
Navigating changes throughout the rental property management industry can be challenging but not impossible. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many landlords, tenants, and property managers persevered through financial struggles, communication barriers, and varying rental demand. Now, they’ve adapted some of the strategies to optimize communication and rental processes.
If you’re looking for a reliable property management company to handle your rental property needs, look no further than Bay Property Management Group. We offer comprehensive rental management services throughout Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC.