Multifamily Industry Insights on Impact of COVID-19 on Leasing and Operations of Apartment Communities

HOUSTON, TX – J Turner Research, the leading full-circle online reputation management firm serving the multifamily industry, undertook exclusive research among apartment industry leaders to study the impact of COVID-19. In the study Multifamily Insights on COVID-19, the focus was to understand the impact on property resources and leasing, steps taken to prevent a further outbreak, and the nature of communication sent to residents. The survey saw participation from over 1,400 multifamily executives. More than 42% of respondents represent the senior management of companies. To download the complete study, visit Insights on COVID-19.

The results indicate that while most of the industry is actively communicating with residents, a significant but an increasingly smaller percentage is yet to devise policies to protect and assist their corporate and on-site staff in dealing with this crisis. Many industry leaders (78%) anticipate a significant impact of this pandemic on leasing. Property managers are concerned about renters paying their rent. Many are getting calls to discount rent since several amenities are being closed to residents in communities.

Multifamily companies are actively communicating with residents sharing the Centers for Disease and Prevent Control (CDC) guidelines, restricting travel, and canceling participation in conferences. As businesses turn to a work-from-home model, 45% of the respondents confirmed this option for their corporate staff and close to 32% are “considering it.” While more than 59% of respondents have made special provisions for the on-site staff to help them deal with this outbreak, 41% are yet to take any action.

As the multifamily industry continues to develop its response to cope with this pandemic, the results of this study can inform management companies to prepare and fine-tune their policies and procedures around Coronavirus.

Key Findings

Short-term measures

  • More than 45% of respondents have mandated the corporate staff to work from home as opposed to 32% who responded as “considering it.”
  •  In line with other businesses, 66% of respondents said that they have imposed travel restrictions, and 77% have canceled attending all conferences.

 Special provisions for the on-site staff

More than 59% of the respondents have made special provisions for the on-site staff, while 41 % have not. The special provisions include, but are not limited to:

  • Limiting the number of on-site staff that works at one time, two-week work from home rotations, and allowing staff to bring their children to work.
  • Taking precautionary measures on tours, limiting tour hours, and offering virtual tours.
  • Limiting maintenance work orders to emergency only for a few weeks.
  • Out of order signs on coffee machines, not accepting packages in the office, no handshakes, and limiting physical contact.
  • Increased sanitation and cleaning of high traffic areas per CDC guidelines.
  • Canceling resident events and closing amenities such as clubhouse and fitness related.
  • Two-week paid leave if diagnosed/self-quarantined, ability to borrow future PTO to handle COVID-19 related issues.
  • Asking residents if anyone in the home has had symptoms or diagnosis of Coronavirus. Service team to wear protective wear such as booties, masks and gloves before entering homes.

 Special communication

  • A vast majority of respondents, 81% have confirmed providing special communication to residents via email, texts, and signage throughout the property.
  • Student Housing property managers are canvassing residents to see who has already left the community, who has plans to leave soon, and for how long. This is taking place to enable management to monitor inventory for maintenance purposes.
  • The communication revolves around temporary changes in policies, how to interact with the on-site team, submission of work orders, closing of certain amenities, cancelation of resident events, sharing CDC guidelines, and measures taken by the property to prevent the spread of the virus.

 Steps taken to prevent the spread

  • Most of the measures cited by the respondents to prevent the spread of this virus are in sync with the advisory of CDC and common-sense measures. Some of the answers include:
    • Social distancing – closing or limiting amenities such as gyms, pools, canceling resident events.
    • Disinfecting and extra cleaning of high traffic areas and commonly used surfaces. 
    • Limiting resident interaction - encourage pay online, minimize in-person visits, emergency maintenance requests only.
    • Increased resident communication
    • Removing beverage stations and cookie jars.
    • In a 55+ community - daily sanitizing of common areas and offices. Cancellation of all resident events and closing the clubhouse and promoting no congregation of 10 or more in any area.

  Impact of “staycations” on on-site staff and resources

  • Anticipating a strain on the current resources, over 41% of respondents said that “staycations” would impact the on-site staff and resources, and almost a quarter of respondents believe that this impact will be “significant.”
  • The virus is also set to impact leasing in the short-term. More than 39% said that there would be an impact, and an equal percentage answered that this impact will be “significant.”

About J Turner Research: J Turner Research is the leading full-circle online reputation management firm that empowers multifamily companies with data to drive revenue. With our unique 360-degree process, we enable companies to enhance resident satisfaction, increase closing ratios, and improve online reputation. Our Online Reputation Assessment™ (ORA™) score serves as the industry standard for measuring a property’s online reputation. For more information, please visit


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