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Pandemic Places Spotlight On Landlord and Tenant Communication

Posted by: | Posted on: November 18, 2020


We have entered uncharted territory. In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the issuance of an Order to temporarily halt residential evictions across the United States for non-payment of rent for any covered person to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 through December 31, 2020. As we watch the ongoing pandemic, we acknowledge that recent economic challenges have placed a financial strain on citizens and their ability to cover essential costs, such as rent.

In order to navigate these challenges and exit successfully, the tenant and landlord should maintain a healthy line of communication.


In June, San Antonio City Council unanimously approved an ordinance requiring landlords and property managers to provide a document called a “notice of tenant’s rights” to tenants they want to evict. The notice informs renters of their rights within the eviction process, provides them a list of resources, including San Antonio’s Covid-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program, and urges renters and landlords to resolve the dispute through a payment plan.

This effort was made to ensure tenants were notified of their rights, but this is just one ordinance that has helped keep people in their homes and landlords financially solvent.

Our REALTORS® report that many local landlords and tenants have been pro-active in their communication and are working together to establish payment plans, deferred rent, and other solutions.

This is great news and showcases our city’s can-do attitude toward its challenges.

It also establishes a trust that will extend past the pandemic.

Despite the positive reports, we know that there are still efforts that can be made to make communication even better.

Here’s how:

Establish Trust With Your Tenants 
If you are a landlord having the proper systems in place, setting responsible protocols, and putting tenants’ well-being first should be the standard.

A tenant-centric mindset requires effort and resources. Take account of your communication touchpoints — do you have a system of maintaining your tenants’ email and phone numbers? Are you keeping tenants aware of changing policies via e-mail, text message, or direct phone calls?

During a crisis people are hyper-aware of their circumstances and are on alert for any information that will assist them.  If you receive a regular set of questions from your tenants, prepare a FAQ with related answers and deliver directly to the tenants’ mailboxes or email inbox. This encourages transparency and may save both parties time.

Contact Your Landlord
If you are a tenant, contact your landlord in writing as soon as you recognize that paying rent will be difficult. If available, a phone call is also advisable. Explain your situation. If you’re going to be late on rent, tell your landlord when you believe you can have the payment. If you’re not sure, propose a payment plan. Include documentation of your loss of income, if you have it.

Landlords understand the pandemic and its impact on the tenants.When you open up negotiations with your landlord, be open about what you can pay and your timeline for financial recovery. This will establish goodwill and continue to build trust.

Stay In Contact With Each Other
Establishing a mutually-beneficial payment or deferment payment plan is a great beginning, but it requires follow-up on both sides.

Tenants must abide by the terms of the agreement and landlords must allow for the time and payment agreed upon.

For tenants, as your employment or financial situation changes, keep your landlord up to date about your ability to pay. If you would like to prepare for negotiations or if you find yourself in need of legal advice, call 2-1-1 to learn about free legal resources for tenants.

For landlords, help your tenants by scheduling a reminder call or email 24 hours before the agreed upon deadline. This is also a good time to inquire about any changes to your tenants’ financial situation. This prevents a breakdown of trust. Notifying the other party of any changes to the agreed upon terms eliminates surprises and may protect both parties from further actions.

Above all, stay informed. Different jurisdictions have enacted a patchwork of rules that expire at different times. Valuable resources are available to keep tenants and landlords up to date. The San Antonio Board of REALTORS® website and the Texas Attorney General’s website can help.

Kim Bragman is Chairwoman of the San Antonio Board of REALTORS®

The San Antonio Board of REALTORS® is the largest professional trade association in San Antonio and represents over 12,000 REALTOR® members. SABOR’s membership services nine counties including Bexar, Atascosa, Frio, Karnes, Kendall, LaSalle, McMullen, Medina and Wilson. SABOR is one of over 1,200 local boards and 54 state and territory organizations of REALTORS® nationwide that make up the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Editor’s Note: This content is made possible by San Antonio Board of REALTORS®. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the San Antonio Express-News. Learn more about our advertising products at www.hearstmediasanantonio.com.

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