With May 1st looming, many landlords are worried about missed rent payments due to rent strikes. Rent strikes in Washington D.C. are widespread right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic and high unemployment rate. At the moment, there is a ban on evictions. However, D.C. tenants need to understand that this is temporary, and rent strikes or rent withholding can still result in severe consequences later on.
Will Washington D.C. Rent Strikes Affect My Rental Properties?
The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a hard time for both during this time, you’ll want to collect rent and try to minimize the number of tenants going on rent strike or withholding monthly payments. We have some tips for rent collection during this time and encourage tenants not to go on a rent strike. Also, we will share some important information regarding the future consequences of rent strikes that as both owners and tenants need to beware.
Consequences of D.C. Rent Strikes During COVID-19
Tenants in D.C. should be aware of the consequences of rent strikes. Withholding rent is only a short-term fix for financial struggle. In the long-term, it can be very detrimental to you as a tenant. While evictions may be banned right now, you may still be required to pay back all missed payments when the eviction moratorium is over. Depending on how much rent you withheld, that could be nearly impossible to payback (especially if you are unemployed due to the pandemic).
So, what exactly are the consequences? Potential to financially harm yourself for years to come, future eviction, and harm to your landlord or property management company. Let’s say you go on strike for three months (March, April, and May as an example), and your rent is $2200/month, which is the average rent for a small D.C. apartment. In that case, when the pandemic ends, you will be in $6,600 worth of debt.
Besides, if it doesn’t get paid back in time, you are now susceptible to eviction. Eviction goes on your credit and rental history for life. When you try to rent another apartment, lease a car or anything else that requires a financial background check, your chances to do so will be much lower than they were with a clean record. The act of withholding may have helped you briefly but harmed you in the long run.
How Can I Collect Rent From My D.C. Tenants?
The following advice applies to landlords and tenants during the pandemic. The best thing you can do right now is to work together to get rent paid. Here is the best way to do so:
If you’re a tenant who is not financially impacted by these circumstances, pay your rent! All the consequences listed above are certainly not worth it if you are financially stable. If you are a tenant directly impacted by COVID-19 and honestly cannot make rent (or make it in full), talk to your landlord.
Landlords, it is your responsibility and obligation to help educate and provide these tenants with the resources available. Educate yourself on all rent assistance and unemployment assistance programs out there for those impacted by the virus and be ready to share this with tenants in need. If tenants are delayed in receiving assistance or still don’t qualify despite losing their job, have another plan in place to make sure that rent gets collected, and the tenant doesn’t go on strike, hurting both themselves and you.
As a landlord, how can you make it through these times and provide tenants in need with assistance? Come up with a payment plan that allows them to pay the maximum amount each month during the pandemic that they can and tack the remaining balance on to future payments. However, do not offer this to all tenants. Only provide payment plans for those that can prove COVID-19 financially impacts them or their household. They need to do so for unemployment, so it makes sense for you to check as well. Tenants, don’t take advantage of these payment plans and don’t ask for one unless it is necessary!
COVID-19 Washington D.C. Update
The D.C. government is still urging residents to stay at home unless travel is essential. If you must leave your home, be sure to practice social distancing:
- Only go out for essential purposes
- stay six feet away from others
- wash hands frequently
- sneeze or cough into elbows
- wearing masks and gloves
- avoid public transportation whenever possible
The D.C. area has seen an increase in deaths and positive tests over the past few weeks. Without proper testing, the cases may continue to climb into the coming days and weeks.
As of April 30, 2020:
- Confirmed COVID cases in D.C.: 4,106
- COVID related deaths in D.C.: 205
- Nationwide COVID cases: 1.07 Million
- US COVID related deaths: 61,570
The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a hard time for both tenants and landlords nationwide. If you’re a landlord concerned about rent strikes, contact a Washington D.C. property management company to help with rent collection and all of your property management needs.