Working around the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for a lot of landlords and St. Louis property managers. At Deca Property Management, we were prepared to adapt because we had already invested in great technology and we already had a consistent set of policies and procedures in place to help us work through the changes in marketing, leasing, and managing rental homes.
One area that has caused a lot of confusion and struggle is evictions. With many tenants struggling financially during this pandemic, rental income hasn’t always been guaranteed. While most landlords would evict a tenant who cannot pay rent, things are different now. We’re taking a look at the biggest impact of COVID-10 on St. Louis property management, and that’s the way we handle evictions.
St. Louis Evictions Before COVID
COVID has brought a series of eviction moratoriums, making it difficult for landlords to evict tenants who have not paid rent, especially if those tenants have documented that their financial struggles are due to the pandemic.
Before this happened, the St. Louis eviction process was fairly straightforward. An eviction attorney would file electronically with the courts after the appropriate eviction paperwork was submitted. A court date would be assigned within three or four weeks. From there, a landlord could count on one of three possible outcomes:
- Consent agreement. In this case, the tenant would agree to pay the overdue rent over an agreed-upon timeframe in amounts that add up to the total due, plus legal fees. If the payments are made as outlined, the tenant can stay in the property.
- Default judgment. This is awarded when the tenant does not show up for court. Unless they request a trial-de-novo within 10 days, the eviction is requested and the sheriff will schedule it within 14 to 20 days.
- Trial. The tenant shows up for court and nothing can be negotiated in terms of payment arrangements. At this point, the judge will usually rule in favor of the owner and give the tenants 15 to 30 days to vacate. A judgment will be awarded for any money owed.
That’s the process outside of the current COVID eviction moratoriums.
St. Louis Evictions During COVID
With evictions more difficult because of tenant protections that are in place, landlords need to understand their own rights and responsibilities. First, you’ll want your attorney to e-file the eviction after the correct paperwork has been submitted. The next step is receiving a notarized CARES ACT affidavit.
Tenants who have declared that their financial hardship is due to the pandemic cannot be evicted right now. This does not mean they no longer owe the rental amount; they still do. It’s important to work with your tenants to try and get any rent that they can pay. The latest stimulus program offers additional rental assistance program as well as cash payments. Smart landlord will work with their tenants who can’t pay to identify the resources available to them.
Additional Precautions with St. Louis Property Management
Evictions aren’t the only part of property management in St. Louis that’s been impacted by the pandemic. Renting homes is extremely contact-oriented. We’ve had to change the way we do business, limiting physical contact between individuals, signing leases electronically, and leaving lockboxes so new tenants can pick up the keys to their new home.
We know that rules and requirements are constantly changing. With so many varying municipalities within St. Louis, it can be difficult to stay compliant and to even know what you’re required to do as a landlord.
St. Louis property management has never been so necessary, especially if you’re considering a rental property investment. While there are challenges, there are also opportunities. The market is healthy, and with incredibly low interest rates, there’s a lot of buying and selling among St. Louis investors.
Contact us at Deca Property Management. We’d be happy to help you work through this uncertain time with your existing or future real estate investments.