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Property Managers Globally Must Raise Their Voices to Stem COVID-19’s Impact

Industry still faces questions on evictions guidance and emergency rental assistance.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues, but neither the public nor the private sector is sitting idly by. In the U.S., that was made clear on March 27, when Congress minted its historic $2.2 trillion relief package. The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act calls for financial assistance to various industries, businesses and families, all strapped by the coronavirus-induced economic slowdown.

At this writing, a second relief package was recently approved by Congress. As IREM (Institute of Real Estate Management) director of Government Affairs Ted Thurn states, the new legislation “allocates $310 billion more in funds to the Small Business Program because they have already distributed the funds in the March 27 bill.”

Certainly, the U.S. isn’t alone, and relief packages have made their appearance in countries around the globe. Here in Canada, for instance, we’re experiencing similar small business and income support legislation. We’re also seeing moratoriums on evictions. As governments around the world attempt to support their citizens and economies, property managers are balancing governmental assistance with the needs of their clients, owners and investors.

That’s why the real estate industry as a major economic force must continue to make its voice heard at all levels—not solely in the U.S., but around the world. With that in mind, we urge property managers everywhere to become an active part of the advocacy initiatives IREM continues to mount on behalf of our profession. We urge you to support the issues that point toward the goals of protecting our tenants and residents during this time of crisis, and ensuring the stability of our businesses. 

Here’s a sampling of the initiatives IREM is forwarding, initiatives to which we urge membership to add its voice in active solidarity:

  • Eviction moratoriums: In the U.S. there is need for clarification on the blanket application of eviction moratoriums for 120 days. As Thurn explains, “We fully understand the hardships being caused by the pandemic, but does a blanket moratorium preclude an owner or manager from evictions due to non-pandemic causes, such as criminal activity or other situations that endanger the community? These need to be clarified.”
  • Support and relief for real estate businesses: Property owners and managers may face problems much like those of our residents and tenants. As we stated in a letter to the U.S. Congress, “If residents cannot pay their full rent obligations, housing providers will be at risk of not meeting their financial obligations as well.” With that in mind, we’re calling for greater clarity on the apparent disconnect between the 120-day eviction moratorium and the 90-day mortgage forbearance, which currently consists of a 30-day forbearance with two potential extensions.
  • Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This is designed, “for those who are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and struggle to cover housing expenses.” While the CARES Act includes a number of provisions for individuals and businesses, these funds are not tied to housing obligations and will not be sufficient to address the financial challenges that both renters and the rental industry are now facing.

As we all navigate through this critical period, member education, support and advocacy are vital to the success of our joint recommendations. Members can stay on top of the latest developments by visiting the COVID-19 “Resources for Property Managers” page on irem.org. You can also reach out to your legislators by visiting IREM’s Advocacy Action Center and choosing “Coronavirus Relief—Add Your Voice.”

There’s an irony in the nature of the coronavirus pandemic in that, while it calls for social distancing, there has rarely been a stronger need for all of us to come together. We urge our members, and in fact all of us involved in the real estate industry, to lend your voices to these efforts and stay top-of-mind to your local, state and national representatives.

In addition to her role as 2020 president of the Institute of Real Estate Management, Cheryl Gray, CPM, serves as the head of special projects and operational excellence at QuadReal Property Group in Toronto, Canada. She’s IREM’s first international president.

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