How the Industry is Responding to COVID-19 & Other Resources

Member Outreach ,

Owner Manager Operational Responses to COVID-19 (as of 4/3)

  • (4/3) One member created a rent assistance program for residents. Here is what they shared with residents:
    • Dear Valued Residents: 

      ___ Property Management recognizes that families and businesses are facing health and economic hardships due to the significant impact of the COVID-19 virus, and we’re committed to providing necessary support for those who need it.

      If you are unable to pay your full rent in April and May, we are offering the option of deferring 50% of your April and May rent payments over a four month period, interest-free*.

      For example, if your rent is $2,000/month, pay $1,000 in April, $1,000 in May, and then add an additional $500 per month to your rent for the next four months, starting in June.
    • How it works: 
      • Complete the form below by April 15, 2020 to request Rent Assistance.
      • Your property manager will be in touch with you to discuss your eligibility and the next steps you will need to take. Please note, in order to be eligible for the Rent Assistance Program, you must be current with your rent charges through March 31, 2020.
      • If you are signed up for autopay, update the amount via the resident app or portal. Please remember to include full payment for extra services (pet premiums, parking, storage, etc.).
      • We're all in this together; 
        • If you are not facing financial hardship related to COVID-19, we ask that you please continue to make your rent payments as required by your lease. This allows our dedicated staff to continue delivering exceptional service during this time of need.
        • We also want to share information from a variety of resources to assist those affected by COVID-19, located here. If you are experiencing hardship, you may be entitled to additional exceptions or considerations. While we have made an effort to provide information that we think you may find valuable, please understand that this is not intended to be an exhaustive resource.
        • Your health, happiness and safety is at the heart of everything we do. In these unprecedented times, know that our team is here for you and we are grateful for your residency.
  • (4/3): a commercial property management company shared great financial resources with businesses:
        • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program – Available Now – SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for each affected small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing, and may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact
          • U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance
            • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Grant program - These grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). To access the advance, you first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.
              • CARES Act – Accepting Applications 4/3/2020 - The programs and initiatives in the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. Funds may be available for:
                • Paycheck Protection Program - Capital to cover the cost of retaining employees though the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP has a host of attractive features, such as forgiveness of up to 8 weeks of payroll based on employee retention and salary levels, no SBA fees, and at least six months of deferral with maximum deferrals of up to a year).

                  The Federal Government and state of Maryland have introduced a number of business assistance programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage you to review the available programs and apply based on your business’ needs:

                     Start your application for the Paycheck Protection Program

              This guide provides information about the major CARES Act programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA. Learn more.

            • Apply for the SBA Economic Disaster Grants/Loans

      • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund - This $75 million loan fund offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum. Learn more.

       

      • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund - This $50 million grant program offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020. Learn more.

       

      • Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund - This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. Learn more.

       

      • Maryland COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund – This program can provide funds to help businesses with 500 or fewer employees purchasing remote access equipment and software to allow employees to work from home, provide on-site cleaning and sanitation services or other creative strategies to mitigate potential layoffs or closures. Learn more

MMHA Notes on Maintenance Techs' Scope 

HR Council Notes (posted 3/25)

        1. Still operating
  • (Member) - has maintenance staff onsite but not leasing
    • Leasing staff is working from home – still taking calls, operating in Yardi
    • Both giving computers and some using their own
    • No drop boxes – all online and maintenance will monitor the leasing offices in case anyone slips it under the door
  • (Member) - has maintenance staff onsite
    • Leasing offices open,  Split shifts
    • They have drop boxes – designating live-on employees to deposit the checks onsite – have at least one person living on at each property
    • 50% of employees working each week but being paid fulltime hours
  • (Member) - operating with leasing offices closed to the public but all staff there
    • Still paying people for full-time even if they aren’t working full-time

  • (Member) - Leasing onsite but weekend hours are suspended temporarily
    • No in person meetings or tours
    • Virtual leasing tours – tablet/phone
    • Maintenance – emergencies only

  • (Member) - Looking at likely furloughing a lot of the teams
  • (Member) - Teams still onsite but leasing offices closed to the public and maintenance is doing emergency tickets only 
         2. Work from home
  • (Member) -  prepared for it by giving employees access that would need it
  • (Member) - will centralize instead of work from home because enough employees don’t have access at home – so will centralize all leasing efforts at home; furlough all onsite teams with the exception of a few managers.
          3. Has anyone done furloughs or layoffs?
  • (Member) - no reductions – playing by ear but not knowing how long it will go on
  • (Member) - no
  • (Member) - no
  • (Member) - no but told regional managers they could end up managing properties if it’s still like this in May 

Company N

  • email sent to residents: Dear ____,

    We hope that you and your family are staying safe and healthy during this Corona virus pandemic.
     
    We realize that during this unprecedented and challenging time you may experience difficulties meeting the obligation of your lease.  In an effort to relieve some of that stress, __________ will be waiving all late fees for April 2020 rent payments. For those residents that pay on time (by the 5th of April), we would like to offer you $50 off of your April rent. 
     
    In addition, if you have a scheduled move out for March/April and need to continue your lease, we are prepared to offer you a month to month lease and will waive the month to month fees for 3 months.  Please contact the leasing office to confirm your unit is available for renewal.
     
    If this situation has created financial strain, please contact us to discuss your account. 
     
    Thank you for being a valued resident of __________  Stay well!

Owner Manager Operational Responses to COVID-19 (as of 3/24)

Company M

  • while this company is a commercial property manager, their advice can still be applicable to come tenants: 
    • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program - Governor Hogan announced on March 19 that the entire state of Maryland has received official designation for SBA assistance. Individual businesses can now apply directly to the SBA for low-interest loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Visit SBA's website to apply now. 
      • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund - This $75 million loan fund offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum. Learn more.

        Dear Tenants,

        Maryland Governor Hogan has issued an Executive Order to close all nonessential businesses effective at 5:00pm, March 23, 2020. Please consult the Interpretive Guidance regarding the Executive Order to determine your business’ status.

        Based on the Interpretive Guidance, the office of St. John Properties, Inc. will remain open. We will continue supporting our tenants and company functions remotely. Our Property Managers are available to address your needs or concerns. Our in-house Maintenance team will continue to provide uninterrupted service. We will continue to provide you with access to your space.

        To file a maintenance request:

        • Visit ___________.com and click “File My Maintenance Request,”
        • Call ____________
        • Email __________

        For after-hours maintenance requests call _________

        The Governor, along with the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Maryland Department of Labor, also introduced new business assistance programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

      • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund - This $50 million grant program offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020. Learn more.

       

      • Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund - This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. More information coming by Friday, March 27, 2020.

       

      • Maryland COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund – This program can provide funds to help businesses with 500 or fewer employees purchasing remote access equipment and software to allow employees to work from home, provide on-site cleaning and sanitation services or other creative strategies to mitigate potential layoffs or closures. Learn more.

       

  • We will continue to stay closely attuned to new developments, and update our Coronavirus Information & Resources page with announcements and business resources from time to time. You can access the page at www.sjpi.com/coronavirus.

    Please let us know if you have any questions. Thank you again and best regards.

Owner Manager Operational Responses to COVID-19 (as of 3/18)

Company K

  • sent out the following message: As COVID-19 continues to spread, we have reevaluated our current working policy.  We are taking this aggressive action to protect staff, residents and our communities. Effective Friday March 20, all Rachuba employees will be working from home. 

    Our leasing teams will be conducting business through email and telephone, remotely. Our maintenance teams will be working on a rotating on call basis.  Please be assured we are still available to assist you and handle necessary maintenance requests during this coronavirus crisis.  Should you need to reach us please use the resident portal, call us at (410) 795-5200 or email us at .

    We encourage you to refer to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the latest guidelines, updates and recommendations for slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Company L

  • the collection department has been working on notices and billings that will let the tenants know that rent is still  expected to be paid and notifying them about what, if any delinquencies they have. We are also preparing a memo for the jobs to post regarding mailing of rent, extended grace period and the location of mailboxes and post offices in their areas and suggesting that they contact their banks about other possible rent payment options.

Owner Manager Operational Responses to COVID-19 (as of 3/17/20)

Company A (as of 3/17):

  • will only be conducing business by phone and E-mail.  Our leasing offices and corporate office will not be accessible to the public.  IPad devices will be utilized to conduct virtual tours of available units.  All resident events have been cancelled along with the closing of our clubhouse & fitness centers.  We are working with future residents and doing what we can to delay move-ins. 
  • Our maintenance teams will only perform emergency maintenance issues that impact the safety of a resident & property.  

Company B (as of 3/16):

  • Our leasing office will be closed to the public, effective immediately. Please feel free to contact them by phone or email, as they will be working for the time being.
  • Please have any packages you may be ordering delivered directly to your home.
  • We will only respond to Emergency Work orders. Please use the Emergency call number to phone in these emergencies.  Non-emergencies will be filed and addressed after this public health crisis subsides.

Company C (as of 3/17):

  • Currently, our leasing offices are closed to the public but team members are in the office accepting phone calls and conducting follow-up and virtual tours.  Maintenance staff are evaluating emergency/critical tickets.  Common areas are closed.  We have advanced additional sick leave that can be used for illness or childcare.  Office staff can work at home with a few working in the office at set times to accept mail, packages, etc.  We have put in place protocols for entering the building through a single door, not using common areas (such as cafeteria or meeting space) except for specific assigned restrooms and cleaning the work space prior to leaving.

Company D (as of 3/17):

  • No in person tours. Tours are virtual and by email. Follow ups by phone. We were going to hire 2 new leasing team members this week but we are putting that off and spreading out some of the staff we currently had because we don’t need 3 leasing people at our largest property, for instance.
  • Managers (PMs and Maintenance Supervisors) report every day. Since we are limiting the work orders we are doing to emergencies, we are redirecting some of our maintenance staff members to clean
  • We have closed our amenity spaces
  • We have cancelled resident events and all clubhouse rentals
  • We are asking our residents to be completely transparent with us regarding their health status. If they are in self quarantine or if they have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, sore throat, fever), they let us know.
  • If we need to go into a resident’s home, we are asking them if they have traveled outside of the country within the last 14 days, if they are in self quarantine or if they have a cough, sore throat or fever.
  • Our Corporate Office is working remotely
  • If our staff members call out sick, we are asking them if they have a cough, sore throat or fever and they must be fever free for 24 hours before they return to work.
  • Quarterly preventative maintenance plan on hold

Company E (as of 3/17)

  • We have closed our community shared common areas including beauty salons, fitness centers, hospitality suites, and theatres. We are only performing health and safety work orders and we are accepting work orders by phone or through our online portal.  We have provided up to 40 hours of advanced leave and flexible scheduling.  Corporate employees have the option to work from home which almost all are.  The residents have received flyers and in English and Spanish which included instructions on our changes. 

Company F (as of 3/16)

  • will continue business as usual, we are working on the ability to allow our office staff to work remotely and should have that set up in the next day or two. This will mean all emails and calls with be answered in a timely manner.
  • For those of you with Section 8 units, Housing has essentially shut down. This means they are not doing any inspections. This will affect our ability to move new residents in who need their vacant units inspected.
  • The courts have closed and are not doing rent court nor evictions. This will negatively affect our ability to collect rent and to evict those who were scheduled for evictions in the near future. All our filings are up to date and Shannon will keep a close eye on how things develop.
  • All our new leases will be done via DocuSign remote signing and we will allow them to get access to keys.
  • We are being extremely cautions about our residents and our maintenance staff and therefore have enacted the following:
  • Maintenance tickets will be scrutinized individually to determine the urgency of the matter. If the issue requires immediate attention, we will dispatch our technicians out, if we determine the matter can wait, we will notify residents immediately and the matter will have to wait.  
  • We ask that residents keep a distance of 6 feet or more from our maintenance technicians while they are in the unit addressing the problem. If at any point in time our technicians feel their health might be affected, they will leave the job site immediately.  
  • residents are not to hand anything to the maintenance technicians as they are instructed not to take anything from anyone's hand.  
  • If residents are ill or not feeling well  they are to let us know. It is imperative we do not put anyone's life in danger. If they do not feel well and still need emergency work done, you will need to find somewhere else to be while we address the issue otherwise our technicians will not enter the property.  
  • We will work on large tickets (turnovers and other work) that can be done in vacant units with materials being delivered to the job site.

Company G (as of 3/15)

  • We are continuing to respond to all service requests. A couple of considerations.
    • With schools closed, we are aware that many kids are home alone and parents are still at work, so we are speaking to all residents in advance to ensure that an adult will be present at the time of service.
    • If a technician arrives at a resident's home and they are visibly showing signs of being sick, the technician has been instructed to professionally and politely ask the resident to wait in another room until the work is complete.
    • If the home is in not clean and the technician feel that it presents a potential hazard, they have been instructed to escalate the service request to the Service Manager and Property Manager to address.

Company H (as of 3/16)

  • Leasing Offices
    • We will not be open to the public for Leasing Tours. We should be doing Virtual Tours via videos and FaceTime.
    • We will allow non-guided tours. You must collect the residents Government issued ID and they must sign a waiver. It is OK to Leave a unit unlocked through the day that prospects can tour themselves. Get a photo of the map with the unit to find circled, text it to the prospect and let them go look at it themselves. 
    • We are prepared to have skeleton crews. We will stagger office time for safety of not being around others and helping to post rent, make calls, sterilize and more. We will have one person in the office at any given time. It can be 2- or 4-hour shifts, must sterilize between shifts common areas and their own desks.
    • Residents need to be encouraged to pay rent online and we will be flexible with opening online payment options to avoid people congregating in the office
  • All Clubhouse and Amenities are closed effective immediately. No, we will not be issuing rent credits for this, as it is not a landlord decision but a safety decision that we cannot avoid.
  • Maintenance Team:
    • We will only conduct Emergency Work Orders and Turns
      • No heat or AC, floods, fires, appliances not working, toilets backed up and any other emergency work orders only.
    • Please ask the following questions before Maintenance Enters a unit. Due to HIPPA laws we ask that you do not write these questions down on the work orders, but come up with a color coding system to notify everyone that is it OK or NOT OK to enter Highlight in RED (do not enter) or Highlight in Green (OK to enter). 
      • In the most recent 14 days, have you experienced a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath?
      • Have you traveled outside of the Country within the last 14 days?
      • Have you traveled by airplane in the most recent 2-days? ** Symptoms can take up to 3-days to present them self, so if they have flown within this time frame, we would need to wait one more day to enter the home if at that time no symptoms have presented themselves.
      • Do you or anyone in your household have respiratory complications, asthma or are over the age of 50?
      • Statement if any of the above receive a “yes” answer: “Due to the aforementioned questions and answers, we will not be able to enter your home to non-emergency work orders due to the risk factors of the COVID-19 virus. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we hope you understand.”
    • All Meetings & Resident Events (NAA, MMHA, Housing, Quest Cares, Marketing & Outreach, Resident Events) are cancelled until further notice 
    • Social Distancing: Stay 4-6 feet away, and we ask that you stop hand shaking
    • Preventative Maintenance is on hold until further notice 
    • situation is ever changing 
    • If at any time you feel you have been exposed or could be infected with the COVID-19 you must notify your employer timely so that proper protocol, sanitizing, and notifications can be done. If you are vacationing outside of the country, you to need to notify your employer when returning. If you are returning from out of country, 14-days of self-quarantine may be required. Contact HR today for more information and requirements before returning to work.

Company I

  • as of 9:00 am 3/17 we closed all our offices to the public and are only performing emergency maintenance. We are putting lock boxes on any door that may require entry by a non-employee, to include the maintenance shop (supply deliveries, etc.)
  • as of 3/16: We're with everyone else in that we are closely monitoring the situation and making decisions as needed. Last week I sent out an email to our employees with basic guidelines (safety and precautions) and also added that we will advance up to two weeks PTO where there is a need.  In addition we are offering loans (up to $500, at least for now) for employees who may need additional funds for childcare, supplies, etc..  We haven't yet taken measures in terms of closing offices or drastically limiting maintenance, but that's coming.  I have a call with our entire company at 12:00 today, and intend to do that as frequently as needed to ensure everyone is on and stays on the same page.

Company J (as of 3/17)

  • We are closing all fitness centers and amenity areas at all of our multifamily communities
  • Effective immediately we will be modifying our protocols for handling maintenance/service requests. Residents requesting service will be asked to disclose if anyone in the home has been diagnosed with COVID-19, exposed to someone with COVID-19, or has flu-like symptoms. Work will be scheduled only for those units where residents have answered “no” to the screening questions. Those residents who indicate “yes” to any of the questions, we will respectfully let them know that the work will be rescheduled in 14 days.
  • During this time, our onsite service teams will be focused on preparing vacant units for move-in to ensure we are able to meet demand once this crisis has passed.
  • No food/snacks/beverages for guests, prospects, or residents should be provided, unless they are single servings that are individually sealed at the factory.
  • No off-site work travel, unless for emergencies. Work travel between multi-site communities is permitted.
  • When touring your communities, prospects should not ride in company or Associates’ personal vehicles.
  • All Associates should practice social distancing to the extent possible during their normal workdays. This includes not gathering in lunchrooms or in groups during breaks as well as avoiding congregating when punching in and out for work. We need to be smart, not scared.

MMHA HR Council Notes (3/17):

  • Most companies have closed leasing offices to the public but still have leasing teams there to answer calls
    • Some skeleton crew or doing shifts
    • Flex hours to help with childcare
    • Some doing only one person working at a time in any given office to reduce contact
  • Corporate offices – most employees are work from home, if possible
  • Seems like all companies have communal areas closed on properties (fitness centers, community rooms, etc.)
  • Maintenance – most are doing emergency calls only
    • Some want them to treat all calls the same (aka assume everyone has the virus)
    • Others want them to wear whatever protective equipment makes them feel comfortable
    • Supply shortage might come into play here
    • Some are using vendors for emergency services when there is confirmed documentation for quarantine status
    • Difference in what gear is being provided and required for maintenance techs on emergency calls
    • Vendors – seems like most are still performing services at the moment, but seems like one company has had an issue with someone being treated for bed bugs
    • If residents request no service (especially for things like pest control), getting this in writing from the resident
  • Paying employees
    • Most are still being paid full-time, even if not working a full 40-hour workweek or if they are working from home
    • Limiting overtime – whoever the tech is on-call, they are paid full-time for being on call, but they aren’t working during the day so that they won’t be paid overtime.
    • Work from home – more relaxed – know that we aren’t getting a full 40 hrs from people working from home
    • Paying people full-time might change in coming weeks depending on workload
    • Offering employees to go negative on PTO (some 40, some 80), but differentiating it as “coronavirus-specific” so that it functions differently than normal PTO.  Seems like some can do this via ADP/payroll systems and others are tracking by hand.
  • Childcare issues haven’t come up yet for most, but likely will be an issue if schools are closed for longer than two weeks
  • We will need to track the Family First bill
  • No one has a plan yet if the governor puts in a “shelter in place” mandate
  • There is a push to have residents pay on the portal or use a rent drop box
  • Employees testing positive
    • Those who have employees currently being tested, they have been open about wanting to share their status with others, but seems like this will be handled on a one-off basis due to HIPPA concerns
  • Handling disclosing to residents at the property – not currently disclosing the status but if yes, it will be more of a general disclosure that someone at the property has tested positive 

Apartment Association/ Company Guidance

MMHA's 25 Tips on Getting Through COVID-19

BBJ

CA- if a resident tests positive:

  • Rely on people who know science: When coronavirus has been detected in a rental unit, the first and most compelling course of action is to call local public health officials to seek guidance in how to handle it.  
  • Ask the infected tenant to voluntarily place themselves in a hospital facility, or at a bare minimum, self-isolate themselves: For someone who exhibited symptoms or has tested positive, the most prudent course of action is to admit themselves into a medical facility. We still don't know, yet, though, if the health care system can accommodate an influx of patients. In Sunday's press conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says a serious concern for his state (and, by extension, ours) is that the number of infected people can severely tax the resources of hospitals. Alternatively, a resident who tests positive for the virus can ideally self-isolate themselves in the rental unit. Asking someone to sever ties with the rest of the world, of course, is a request hard to swallow, but hopefully heeded. Tenants who are infected should be told that in the interest of transparency, other residents will be notified that someone in the building has tested positive; however, the name of the inflicted tenant shall remain anonymous.
  • Notify other residents coronavirus has been detected in their building: You do not want to incite panic, but residents should be aware that the virus has been identified within their close quarters and that even more vigilant measures should be taken. Continued and increased education at this point is advisable. The identity of the infected tenant should not be divulged - you do not want to stigmatize them or risk a potential lawsuit for making them a pariah. In case you were wondering, HIPPA, along with California's more restrictive Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) only applies to medical providers and other "covered entities," but we have always maintained that confidential information of tenants should never be shared, and we do not break precedent.
  • Biohazard remediation: When the novel virus becomes an unwelcome guest in any of your rental units, a "deep cleaning" should be conducted. On its page regarding environmental cleaning and disinfection on a large scale, the CDC offers a variety of recommendations and you are urged to follow them. However, obtaining the necessary equipment and protective gear may prove to be impractical for many housing providers, especially if there are many units. It may make sense in some cases to consider outsourcing this herculean task to licensed contractors that have the necessary safety apparatus, cleaning products, and familiarity with health regulations. 

J Turner Research Study: Multifamily Insights on COVID-19:

  • The results indicate that while most of the industry is actively communicating with residents, a significant percentage is yet to devise policies to protect and assist their corporate and on-site staff in dealing with this crisis. 
  • Also from J Turner: they will be hosting a coronavirus webinar on Thursday (3/19): https://totallytoni.webinarninja.com/live-webinars/243640/register