March 24th- ICYMI: Property Management Executive Town Hall

Posted By: Trinity Kutschinski COVID-19 , Membership ,

The goal of our virtual Town Hall was to give members an opportunity to engage in productive Q&A with some of our top industry-gurus, leading the discussion. Town Hall attendees were given the opportunity to send in their top-of-mind questions, participate in some Coronavirus-related polling, and engage with others in the industry who may be facing similar issues.
 

Below, are some of our Town Hall discussion highlights coinciding with collected polling results. Please note, all questions and commentary found below are anonymized.

Poll: COVID-19 Resident-related Communication & Procedure- When asked if their company or community had developed a communication protocol for if/when a COVID-19 case is reported onsite, attendees answered as follows:

  • Yes- 50%
  • No- 16%
  • In the Process- 34%

Commentary & Feedback- Panelists offered the following commentary in regard to resident communications relating to COVID-19 and emphasized the importance of creating a safe, free-flowing dialogue with residents. 

  • We always want our resident communication to come from a place of care and safety, especially in light of recent events.
  • We have created an email for COVID-19 related situations, that residents can anonymously ask questions. It's been an extremely insightful experience and has given our communities a lot of information that we wouldn’t have had or been aware of otherwise. 
  • Additionally, we have revised move-in procedures to adhere to CDC guidelines, package protocols, and moved to only fulfilling emergency maintenance requests.

A few additional questions were raised about working remotely, productivity, internal team communication, and remote-tasks to assign to maintenance professionals, we've created an article that addresses these questions accessible, here.  


Poll: Writ of Possession Suspension (Evictions) Protocol- When asked if their company or community was implementing any of the following eviction-related procedures during the current "State of Emergency" and Writ of Possession Suspensions, attendees answered as follows: (selecting all that apply)

  • We plan to stop filing evictions for those residents who are experiencing hardship in light of COVID-19- 39%
  • We are negotiating payment plans for those residents who are experiencing hardship in light of COVID-19- 72%
  • We plan to waive late fees during the State of Emergency- 61%
  • We are still filing evictions as standard procedure, but plan to sign more stipulation agreements- 17%
  • We are business as usual for the time being- 11%

Commentary & Feedback- Panelists highlighted their company's approach to eviction suspension, stating that waiving late fees and allowing residents to pay in increments will be their solution going forward. Mentioning that the best news surfacing in regard to this situation, came from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announcing a nationwide relief package for borrowers and residents. The package includes mortgage modifications for borrowers with federally backed mortgages, with the requirement of not evicting residents based solely on non-payment of rent.

  • Notable panelist feedback- "it is going to be very important for us to document the loss of income and any additional expenses we incur, directly related to this virus." 

Poll: Communal Package Delivery Procedure- When asked if their company or community had modified procedures related to package delivery, attendees answered as follows:

  • We have suspended package acceptance for resident deliveries- 65%
  • We have not modified our package handling practices- 13%
  • We are accepting packages, the onsite staff is sanitizing- 11%
  • We have not quite figured out how to manage package deliveries right now- 11%

Poll: Leasing & Social Distancing- When asked how communities are offerings prospect tours during "social distancing," attendees answered as follows:

  • We have ramped up offering them virtually- 71%
  • We are still conducting in-person tours, but have implemented additional measures to practice social distancing-16%
  • We are not currently offering tours- 11%
  • We refer potential residents to the website exclusively- 0%

Read the National Apartment Association's (NAA) article on, "Why These Virtual Leasing Tools Make Sense"


Poll: Community Common Areas & Resident Activity- When asked how communities are managing common spaces and resident activity during COVID-19, attendees answered as follows:

  • We are conducting them but on a smaller scale- 0%
  • We have completely eliminated them for the time being- 68%
  • We are planning "virtual" resident activities- 30%
  • We are still conducting them, but implementing social distancing- 2%

Commentary & Feedback- Panelists addressed questions raised about negative reviews and feedback about communal amenities being closed. Stating that both Google and Yelp have suspended individuals the ability to leave reviews through their platforms.

For platforms still allowing reviews, Panelists offered the following negative reviews best practice.

  • Recommended that communities should simply do their best to respond with kindness and understanding, most of the time, this will mitigate the negativity and encourages individuals to revise their reviews. 

An additional question was posed, asking "What is the best response when residents ask for a reduction in rent because they don't have access to amenities?"

A few panelists offered feedback, stating that given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 timeline, we don't know what this will look like. We all should continue to follow CDC guidelines to ensure our resident's safety and right now, which includes closing down amenities. Technically, amenities are "added bonuses" for residents and are not factored into rent payments. However, if we have to have our pool closed down through the summer, we may have to look at creating some sort of rent reduction, but that's still up in the air.