Suggestions for Tenant Communications during COVID-19

24 Mar 2020 5:42 PM | Brit Vitalius (Administrator)

In response to the rapidly changing environment around the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are providing this immediate guidance to help our community of landlords follow best practices for communicating with tenants during this critical time as outlined by the Southern Maine Landlord Association.\

1.  Communicate with tenants. Send clear and concise communications to your tenants if you haven’t already done so. This general email should include the following elements:

  • Use reassuring language. Supportive language is best during this unsettling time

  • Communication should emphasize that we are all in this situation together and open and timely communication is critical between all parties.

  • To avoid potential fair housing issues, be sure to incorporate and use  the same language to all tenants based on current, factual information 

  • Ask for anticipated rent payment problems. Ask that anyone who has lost their job and anticipates difficulty or an inability to pay their monthly rent should contact you immediately on an individual-only basis. Be mindful that each tenant’s situation is potentially unique which will require you to  address each circumstance separately.

2. Respond to tenants who have reached out. Reiterate and reassure that:

  • You are willing to work with them if they do their part to take advantage of resources that will provide them with some income

  • Provide a hardship application to them to complete. We have attached a sample you are welcome to use.

  • Share links to local and federal resources available to them, including how to file for unemployment, anticipated Federal payments related to COVID-19, General Assistance (rental assistance), and any other additional resources. The SMLA will continue to share links to resources as they become available. 

  • Encourage tenants to get in touch with budgeting services, and other agencies to see what support is available.

3. Be sensitive, be clear and be direct. The goal is to encourage collaborative communication and work together to find viable solutions.  

  • Each tenant and landlord relationship and situation is unique.

  • Clearly communicate that you are understanding of their situation but continue to stress available resources 

  • Repeat that this is a critical time for tenants to act quickly to demonstrate a willingness to work with you. 

  • Check back early and often with your tenants to get updates on their progress. Although you do not want to use threatening language or tones which will only serve to cause additional anxiety, you will need to see that actionable items are in process.

4. Be realistic and consistent: It is best to avoid terms like  "rent freeze" or any language that implies tenants can wait to “see what happens.”

  • Address short term only issues for now. 

  • Rent is not 'forgiven' but payments or partial payments can be deferred and you will work to get on a payment plan over time as the current situation becomes more clear. 

  • Reiterate that we can’t solve everything today, however, you will continue to communicate and provide updated information and resources when available.


Postal Address:
306 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101

Phone: (207) 358-9853


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