The COVID-19 pandemic is tough for everyone. Renters are disappointed that their travel plans have been canceled, and property owners are worried that their incomes will be severely impacted. However, savvy property owners will see this pandemic as an opportunity—a chance to secure future renters, create goodwill, build out reviews and make those upgrades that they’ve been putting off for too long.
How to Handle Cancellations
The pandemic has affected everyone and as a property owner, you must be empathetic of your renter’s predicaments. Many have planned and saved over a considerable amount of time for their vacation. They’re understandably disappointed. Similarly, you must make sure that your properties can cover operational costs, which can be frustrating and stressful as well. This creates an opportunity. The first step is to genuinely connect with your renters. Ditch email and opt for a video call instead. It’s important for them to understand that you want to accommodate their needs and that you’d like them to be amenable to yours.
If your rental properties are residential apartments, establish a payment plan with the tenants whose finances have been most negatively affected. They’ll appreciate that you’re proactively trying to alleviate some of their anxiety or stress. In return, they may be willing to extend their leases, or you will have fostered enough goodwill to secure them as recurring tenants in the future.
If your properties are vacation rentals, focus your energy on rescheduling instead of refunding. This will help retain short term cash flow to bridge the operational cost gaps until after the pandemic ends. If faced with a renter who is adamant about canceling, consider an incentive such as an extra free night or reduced rent. Strategies like these will reduce your total revenues over the next 12 months, but they will provide you with the liquidity that you need today. With understanding and negotiation, you can make sure that costs are covered—leaving you and your properties insufficient financial standing when rentals pick back up again.
Take Advantage of the Opportunities
Each positive interaction you have—whether it’s a payment plan, refund or rescheduling—is a pending opportunity. If you feel that your interaction with the renter was positive overall, then ask them to write you a review or share your listing with friends and family.
If you go out of your way to connect with your renters, they may be motivated to pay it forward. If you had a renter who was happy to reschedule without incentives, then ask if they would refer a friend to book a trip in the future. In exchange, you can offer them a free additional night for each friend they refer. By honestly reaching out to your renters, you open future doors and foster constructive dialog.
If you manage to hold on to short term cash flows that exceed your operational costs, use this time to invest in your property by making upgrades. Focus on improvements that could have lasting impacts, such as installing a smart home automation system. Improvements like smart thermostats and smart blinds are easy to install, save you money, and increase your property’s appeal.
You also have opportunities to improve your rental properties that are unoccupied. Get a fresh coat of paint. Replace old carpeting. Upgrade kitchen fixtures. By investing in your properties, you increase property value, differentiate from competitors, and stand out to new renters.
If you have bigger ambitions, look into the many new federal loan programs that have been established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These very favorable low-interest-rate loans will give you the funds you need to make significant improvements to your properties.
Keeping Your Property Rentable During COVID-19
It’s important to remember that, although COVID-19 has impacted everyone in one way or another, it has not stopped everything. People still have necessary travel they can’t cancel, and renters may be stuck in a foreign city and in need of temporary housing.
Update all of your listings to be COVID-19 friendly. Start by lowering your rental rate to account for the excess supply of available rentals. Then update your properties’ titles and descriptions to highlight the steps you have taken to ensure that your property is sanitized. We recommend the following actions and talking points:
- Deep cleanings with bleach-based cleaners
- 72-hour dormant periods between rentals
- Extra cleaning supplies stocked and ready for use at the property
- Free gloves and masks to use during the stay
- Beds left undressed so renters know that others did not handle sheets
Ready to Make Smart Home Upgrades?
If you think that this pandemic period is the right time for you to upgrade your rental properties with smart home automation systems, then look no further. At PointCentral, we help to curate, build and install advanced smart home automation systems for your rental properties. These systems do more than just modernize your property, they also help you save money and time.
To learn about how your properties can benefit from the latest smart home technology, contact PointCentral for a free demo today.