Property Management – Updates from the Front Lines
A little over a week has gone by since my last post, and already a lot has changed. Nearly 10 million people have newly filed jobless claims, a $2 trillion stimulus package has been signed, and the CDC says things will get worse in the next 2 weeks before they hopefully get better. Unsurprisingly, Judge Hidalgo has extended the “stay at home” order for Harris County through April 30. Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough did the same, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued the same order for all of Texas, outside of essential activities. That order officially took effect on April 2 at midnight.
Very important to note, for the purposes of the statewide order, “residential and commercial real estate services, including settlement services” are included as essential for the entire state of Texas. Our offices remain functional, though we have staggered office hours and decreased the number of people in the office to help prevent the spread of the virus. Most of our operations are in fact now being done remotely.
The beginning of April has of course brought the next rent collection cycle. In March we reached out to all tenants asking them to be proactive in communicating concerns to us. Before April 1, more than 10% of our tenants had reached out expressing concerns paying rent due to office closures, furloughs, and layoffs. We’ve unfortunately even already heard of some tenant owned small businesses closing like a local health spa. This has become very real, very quickly for our entire community.
We have sent tenants information on how to apply for unemployment benefits, which fortunately have been expanded, and the government is doing what they can to expedite those and stimulus payments going out. We remain optimistic that before the end of April, those in need will start to receive funds.
As a management company, our incentives are directly aligned with our property owners. We get paid mostly based off of collecting rent. If no rent is collected, we lose most of our revenue stream. We’re doing everything we can to work out payments with struggling tenants and ensure our property owners are getting paid as well. As we expressed earlier to our tenants, it takes all of us working together.
I will continue to send out updates as things evolve. For our clients, I thank you for the trust you have put in us to help you during these difficult times.