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How Has the Pandemic Changed the Rental Industry?

As the pandemic continues we’ve all had to rethink how we interact with others and adapt our habits. And as social distancing and shelter-in-place orders lengthen, these new ways of life are impacting both the long term decisions of tenants and the strategies landlords need to consider to appeal to a change in customer demand.

These changes include, for example, increases in people working from home, we’ve all been out less to shops, bars, and restaurants, and as such we’ve all been spending more time at home. For renters then, it’s unsurprising that their priorities when choosing a rental property have shifted in line with these changes.

The real estate industry which has traditionally been slow to change has had to adapt quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Below we take a look at some of the new demands tenants have for their rental properties and the changes landlords have been implementing to meet them.

Changes in Tenant Preference

More Space

Most Americans have spent a lot more time at home over recent months than they usually would. Work from home has become a new normal and many employers have seen this as an opportunity for them to cut overheads whilst maintaining productivity and simultaneously improving the work-life balance of their employees.

Tenants then want something a little bit nicer at home, and we’ve already seen a rise in popularity for properties that offer enough space for a home office. For landlords that can’t offer a home office, it could be an option to invest in built-in home office amenities such as built-in desks and bookshelves. Additionally, these built-in amenities can help improve the use of space so that tenants can get more out of what might be a relatively small apartment.

It’s not just for work though that people are looking for more space. As shelter in place orders lengthen having a comfortable amount of personal and private space to weather the storm can help ease the stress and is certainly something many renters are prioritizing.

Less Demand for Central Locations

According to a Harris Poll survey, nearly one-third of Americans are considering moving to a less densely populated area because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

With it becoming less necessary for many people to commute to work every day it has also become less necessary for people to live in city centers where rents are high and space is small. As such, over the last few months, we’ve seen a general shift in popularity away from central city locations to bigger more affordable housing options in the suburbs.

Renters are keen, not only to create a designated home working space, but also to improve their quality of life with larger homes, garden spaces, and more affordable rent.

Better Connectivity

It’s vital for people if they want to work from home to have a fast Wi-Fi connection that they can rely on. On top of this, its use for entertainment services such as Netflix, Amazon, and for gaming makes it doubly desirable.

For landlords, this is an easy win. By making sure that the apartment or house is wired for a fast connection with a good service provider and promoting this in listings you can help minimize vacancy periods.

Changes in Landlord Processes

Utilizing Technology

Technology has helped many industries abide by social distancing guidelines without compromising customer experience.

There’s no reason why employing technology as a landlord can’t help you achieve the same thing. There are numerous technologies that can be used to not only manage administrative tasks in a contactless fashion but actually streamline processes and improve the experience for both landlords and renters.

For example, you can collect rental applications digitally via email and then quickly and easily run tenant screening reports through a property management app like Landlord Studio. Additionally, e-signing documents (such as lease documents) is a common practice nowadays and can be done using free Adobe tools. And finally, video calling has become the norm and there’s no reason why landlords can’t interview prospective tenants via video call.

Utilizing technology like this is more efficient for both parties and can help landlords safely perform and streamline a range of processes, from finding new tenants to managing maintenance requests.

Online Rent Collection

Finally, with health and safety protocols calling for less face to face interaction, right now is the perfect time to start collecting rent online (if you haven’t already). There are numerous solutions on the market now, such as commonly used payment apps like Zelle, Venmo, and Paypal or rent collection tools specifically designed for landlords such as Landlord Studio’s Online Rent Collection tool.

With Landlord Studio your tenants pay their rent directly into your bank account. Additionally, they can set up recurring payments and landlords can automate invoices and receipts. Once the rent has been collected the system automatically recognizes and tracks it. Using these tools you can greatly reduce the risk of later rent payments and simultaneously reduce admin work.

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Final Words

In these challenging times, landlords need to be aware of the changing demands of renters and to communicate and work with tenants, assisting them when necessary to ensure timely payments. There are numerous solutions to improving rental processes and managing the new challenges that have been created by the pandemic.

Whatever solutions you employ, whether it’s fine-tuning rent collection processes, employing new technologies, or adapting your investing strategies – it’s important for you to accurately track all rent payments, communications, and arrears for both tax purposes as well as potential evictions.

Online Rent CollectionRental ManagementTenant Screening

Ben Luxon

Ben is the editor and lead writer for Landlord Studio. He has worked with real estate professionals all over the world and written educational articles on tech, real estate, and financial growth for sites such as Forbes, TechBullion, and Business Magazine.


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