Part 3: Diary of a Landlord – Coronavirus Strikes

Apr 27, 2020 | 0 comments

Coronavirus was beginning to show signs in Canada and was impacting more and more jobs. Layoffs were happening.

We reached out to all of our tenants to find out how they were doing. They all said they were fine for now, but that the future was shaky. We told them we’d be in touch soon, as we were following the media releases to find out more about what we could do to help them.

Our Vernon tenant on the main floor suite of the home said she was fine on the day that we checked in with her. She said things were OK but her work was going to close down the next week.

3 days after that message, we ended up getting a very short and blunt text message from her to say she’s moving out as soon as possible. When I asked her when that may be, she said it was going to be in 6 days.

I immediately posted an ad on various websites and marketplaces to advertise the suite for rent. I luckily keep a write up with photos available, so that I am ready to quickly act, when needed.

I wasn’t getting any interest from candidates that would be a good fit. I finally had one couple message me and they seemed great, so I drove up to Vernon first thing in the morning to meet them. They were fabulous.

The next day, the husband was laid off from work and the job relocation to Vernon was put on hold. Back to my search for finding a tenant.

Due to COVID-19, the current tenant didn’t want me showing the suite to any further applicants, so I had to wait until she moved out. I asked her what time on day 6 that we could arrange the walk through? She responded and said that I could get the keys at 3am.

I understand that there are terrible landlords out there, but not all of us should hold that label. I accommodated my tenant as best I could to move out 6 days from when she texted notice, to hold off on showing the suite, to get the keys at whatever time she said worked for her. Not to mention, I still had to deal with some remaining belongings that she left behind in the shed and yard.

As a landlord, understand that YOUR job is to find the best tenants for your investment property and when they move out, do your best to find more. Did I keep her damage deposit? No. I refunded her full amount.

It wasn’t fun at the time, but I kept my head down and finished up my to-do list on the property. It took me a week to find new tenants and undergo required house maintenance. In the end, I went 2 weeks without rent. But that’s what this style of investing involves. A few weeks without rent, while others are impacted much more significantly is nothing to squawk about. It’s something that all landlords should have built into their systems and financial reports… vacancies are bound to happen and I’m lucky that they happen in the form of weeks, not months.

The new Vernon tenants are coming from a home where their landlord has been an awful one. Anything that broke down did not get replaced. Broken furnace and broken appliances. I don’t treat my tenants that way. It’s mutual respect.

Did the last tenant leave in a hurry and leave me in a bit of a bind? Sure. But she had taken great care of the home inside and out. Her current situation required an immediate move across the country. Could she have just packed her clothes and flown back East, while I had to get rid of her furniture and everything else? Yes. She could have, but I have always been a good landlord to her. She left the house in complete move-in condition.

I’m happy to have new tenants that will see that I care about them and that they have a safe and cozy home. They deserve a good place to live.

April 1st came and went. All of our tenants managed to pay their rent in full.

What now? Well, with Coronavirus here, there is obviously a lot of uncertainty. I am working on funds and eventually refinancing to buy 4 more suites. I have been waiting for the real estate market to shift and to see some discounts – but so far, out of the BC regions that I keep an eye on, I haven’t seen any good discounts yet.

If I find a good investment property to buy, while keeping a safety net, then I’m going to act on it and add another property to the portfolio.

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