COVID-19 and its Effect on the Rental Market

Apartment community in Lynchburg VA

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on every facet of our lives, and the rental and housing market is no exception! Renters across the United States have been dealing with uncertainty and unpredictable changes as a result of the pandemic’s effects on their housing for almost two years now. As some things in life are starting to go back to normal, now is a good time to reflect on the temporary and possibly permanent effects of COVID-19 on the rental market.

Changes in Rental Costs

COVID-19 caused major shifts in the rental market, with an unprecedented amount of metropolitan renters looking to leave big cities for rural markets. In the early stages of COVID-19, this caused rental prices in big cities to decrease as availability went up, and the rental prices in rural areas inflate as demand increased. According to reports by Zumper, large cities such as San Francisco and New York reached record lows during 2020.

The rental market has also recently been impacted by a rising housing market caused by a lack of new construction homes. With countless home owners deciding to sell their homes while the market is at its peak and first-time home buyers unable to afford basic homes, we are seeing a shortage of rental units, as many decide to rent while waiting for the housing market to stabilize.

While the market has rebounded from the lows seen in 2020, all of these factors are causing unpredictable changes in rental costs and can vary dramatically across cities, counties and more rural towns.

Improvements to Virtual Tours

Apartment virtual tourOne of the benefits we’ve seen as a result of covid’s impacts is the improvement of technology and implementation of Virtual Tours. More rental properties than ever have recognized the value of allowing long-distance tenants to get a complete and detailed look of their potential new home.

3D tours allow you to tour your potential apartment from the comfort of your own home, and 3D models let you visualize furniture and dimensions more precisely. Video tours take you on a tour through the community grounds and amenities. Some communities even provide live video walkthroughs, allowing you to direct the tour and ask questions as if you were there in person.

The next time you are searching for an apartment from a distance, these advancements are sure to make your apartment hunting much easier!

Long Distance Leasing Advancements

Another advantage that long-distance renters will appreciate is the reduced need to visit an apartment in person in order to rent it. Leasing Agents started using Zoom Meetings and Electronic Signatures for Lease Agreements, which required very few, if any, in-person meetings. Even as things start to return to normal, the adoption of these procedures will make long-distance renting less of a headache for renters in the future.

Changes To Offered Amenities

Apartment renters commonly share the community’s amenities, which caused a unique challenge for apartment management during COVID-19. Some apartments were forced to close their amenities entirely, while others were able to arrange scheduled use to maintain social distancing.

Moving forward, the scheduled use of amenities such as fitness centers may become a regular practice, as many renters appreciated the privacy this provided. Furthermore, many apartment communities have improved their cleaning practices for shared amenities, which is a benefit that the majority, if not all, apartment renters can enjoy!

A Demand For Larger Apartments

The stay at home mandate caused an additional challenge to apartment renters, particularly families, as COVID-19 was at its peak in 2020. Parents working remotely and kids doing school from home was a recipe for cabin fever, especially in a two bedroom apartment! While some of us are returning to the office, many are still able or desire to work from home; causing many renters to seek out larger spaces and to upgrade to an apartment with an additional room to be used as a home office. Loft apartments are also seeing an increase in popularity, as the loft design allows for more separation in common spaces and provides the perfect place for a home office or study corner.

Legal Changes and Eviction Bans

apartment leasing paperworkPerhaps the biggest changes COVID has brought to the rental market are the changing rental laws and the eviction ban.

The eviction ban has been a temporary solution intended to help families struggling to make ends meet as the economy shut down. As the recovery has been slow, it has been extended multiple times. The latest extension only applies to those counties with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission, which currently includes most of the country, and is set to expire on October 3, 2021. You can determine whether the eviction ban applies in your county here.

For this eviction ban to apply to your situation, you’ll need to first apply for government assistance for housing. Each locality has its own assistance program. You can find your local rental assistance program here. While this ban does aim to provide relief for those unable to pay renters, it does not mean that renters no longer have to pay rent.

It’s important to remember that not paying rent can have serious consequences, such as lowering your credit score. This could also be detrimental when renting other properties in the future as some landlords request previous addresses, rental payment history, etc. If you are struggling to pay your rent, your best option is to discuss your options with your landlord. They may be able to help you out with a payment plan or other rent payment options.

If you are considering renting in Lynchburg, Virginia, we at Vistas Apartments would be happy to help guide you through the process and answer any questions you might have concerning recent changes! Contact us today to get started. We look forward to calling you our neighbor!

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