Here are six things you can use to better protect your tenants and also your business from COVID. While there is a vast amount of resources and advice out there, we wanted to share with you some useful specific information for rental landlords.
The Government has said that tenants can and should move property if they need to during COVID-19 and have provided a lot of information on the gov.uk site covering advice for landlords and tenants. It is a useful starting point and something you should familiarise yourself with during any viewings. The last thing your business needs right now is to fall foul of a bad social media post or review simply because you failed to implement a few simple steps.
1. Minimise unnecessary viewings
Ask about symptoms!
Make sure you find out as much as possible about any potential tenants. Do ask if they have had any COVID-19 like symptoms or if they have had COVID-19 and recovered. This will put you in a much safer position if you have this information.
Screen for desirable tenants
As well as a COVID question, you should ensure that your tenant screening questions are robust and that you now revisit them to ensure they cover as much as possible ahead of any viewing. This might feel more intrusive but having all the information available to hand before any viewing helps keep everyone safe.
You can use GoTenant! to automatically pre-qualify prospective tenants with our ‘Getting to Know You survey’.
Please read our article How to recruit great tenants for further tips and advice.
Don’t do unnecessary viewings
This one is obvious, don’t simply do viewings because you are stuck in the house. Government guidance here is very clear. Make sure you do all your checks and get as much of the process out of the way first before agreeing to any viewing. Explain the reasoning to your potential tenant too. Communication is key here.
2. Save time and go digital
Technology and the Internet can be your friend here. You can provide a huge amount of digital-based content that potential viewers can visit and consume before any viewings. This can help streamline the process but also save you carrying out unnecessary viewings
Videos – record walk-through videos and FAQs videos on your smartphone. If you want to go full virtual tour, you could invest or borrow a Ricoh Theta 360 camera which has made 3d walk-through videos so much more affordable.
Photos – take and upload as many images as possible of the different rooms, views and facilities.
All of this can be hosted on your landlord GoTenant! website
3. Do all paperwork with online signatures
Avoid paperwork and digitise! Using a property management system (such as GoTenant!) means that all paperwork, inventory agreements etc. can be read by the tenant and signed online. They are then stored and available from the palm of your hand.
Property management systems are also great when you need tenants to confirm that they have read any necessary documentation.
4. Communicate to existing tenants
You should also be in regular touch with any existing tenants and keep them up to date with requirements and changes, especially if you need to arrange checks and handover appointments. It would be best to have multiple ways of doing this with your tenants so you can be sure they have received messages. Text messaging will tell you if they have been delivered and opened.
Make sure you know if your communication is getting through is half of the battle and also help with any potential complaints down the track.
With GoTenant! you can message your tenants via the system.
5. Put extra deep cleans in place
It goes without saying that keeping your properties clean is of paramount importance, but it is worth stating again. If you have a high turnover of tenants, you will need to ensure you have a range of cleaning provisions as well as deep clean options.
A few easy things you can provide are:
Anti-viral spray – such as a Dettol spray or other anti-viral cleaner – provide these in the kitchen and bathrooms as a minimum. We have heard of some people keeping this by the front door to spray any packages of deliveries too.
Liquid soap dispensers – or hand gels are also a great thing to have dotted around the property, especially for any shared access points or in common areas.
PPE – Masks and gloves could also be provided to tenants – for viewings do bring spare masks and gloves and ask people to clean their hands on entry and leaving. Make sure you have a suitable place for people to dispose of PPE too after use.
Visitor Rules – Make sure your tenants are reminded of visitor rules. Do stick to government guidance and remind them of government guidelines. This helps tenants see this is not your rules but those you have been asked to advise them of.
6. Document all actions taken
Making sure you have a documented process will help highlight any flaws in the process but also help in case there are any potential issues. Creating documented processes is a great way to keep everyone safe and will act as a risk assessment at every stage of this process.
Even without COVID-19, these steps will provide you and your tenants with peace of mind.