Resident Information on COVID-19
Published on: Tuesday, March 24th, 2020
Garbage, Dumpster, Laundry, Rent Balance: Email on April 2, 2020
Please read the following email with important information related to COVID-19. Belhaven Residential will continue to provide essential services like garbage pickup and emergency maintenance for as long as staff are healthy and willing. We need your help to provide a safe environment for you, your neighbors, and our employees.
If we pick up your garbage at your door on Tuesday and Friday, you MUST secure all trash in a normal kitchen-size or black trash bag. Our staff will not clean up spilled food or handle grocery sized bags or items not bagged like pizza boxes. If your garbage is not in compliance, our staff will document it and we will NOT remove the garbage AND fine you $25 for the first two violations. Additional violations of the same kind will be charged $100 per incidence.
The dumpsters are filling up faster, likely related to more residents dining in and spending more time at home. The garbage companies will not empty the dumpsters if bags are leaning up against the dumpster. Additionally, people are throwing loose items on the ground around the dumpster, and our staff is having to pickup loose items like baby diapers and food containers.
It is incredibly important to properly bag your garbage. If you find the dumpster to be full, start a pile outside the dumpster not immediately against it, and our staff will address it when they report to work. We are working with our garbage collection companies to tweak the schedule to meet the new demand.
Please remember that our staff’s health is important to us and they are providing you an essential service. Your consideration and cooperation are critical right now.
Public Laundry Rooms:
Public laundry facilities provide an essential service. Yesterday in our staff meeting, our staff agreed to continue to clean and service the laundry rooms two times per week. We currently have bleach and cleaning supplies, but it may be difficult to source cleaning supplies for future dates. We will continue to service public laundry areas for as long as supplies are available and staff are healthy and willing.
Please be mindful of risks associated with community areas like the public laundry facilities and machines. You should disinfect your machine before and after use, much like you clean workout equipment at a public gym. Click on this flyer for Safe Laundering Guidelines.
Should you become sick with COVID-19, we ask that used sheets, towels, and clothes remain in your apartment untouched for 48 hours before attempting to wash them. It is believed that the virus lives only 24 hours on soft surfaces. You should also consider washing in the hottest water available and drying them in a machine. Heat damages or kills the virus.
Thank you for your cooperation in these matters.
If you will struggle to pay April and/or May rent, please read this section carefully. At a future time, each resident with a balance will need to sign a promissory note and negotiate terms to pay their balance. Our staff will be prepared to speak to you individually about your ability to pay. We may request proof that you did not receive pay or benefits during the months of quarantine. If, at that future time, you have a significant balance that will need to be paid over several months, you should anticipate accruing an interest rate of 4% for our loan made to you. This is the interest rate provided to us through an SBA loan program, and it is the interest rate we will have to borrow money to sustain us during this time.
The Federal government’s relief related to COVID-19 provides benefits to workers and employers. At this time, Federal and State officials have commented that rent payments and mortgages are still due. Relief will be given to the majority of U.S. workers in the following ways (important links are provided):
– Economic Impact Payment of up to $1,200 per person, and up to $500 per qualifying child. This will be a check or direct deposit issued by the IRS in the near future.
– Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits have been expanded to cover workers, including contract, gig, or self-employed, who have been furloughed or terminated due to shelter-in-place orders. Benefits can now reach $835/week. File online: MS Dept of Employment Security
– Employers will be compensated to keep staff on payroll during this time. As an employer, Belhaven Residential will apply for an SBA loan to meet payroll during this time of disuption. (Employment Retention Credit under the CARES Act). This loan will be made to us at 4%. We have not requested our banks pause our mortgage payments, and we will have more clarity about our economic situation and whether we can meet our mortgage obligations by mid-month.
Belhaven Residential will continue to monitor economic relief bills for information that might help our employees or residents.
Thank you for your support and cooperation during this time.
Tours/Leasing: Decision on March 24
Due to recommendations from the CDC, we will not be touring a unit in person at this time. This is currently effective until April 6th but will be extended based on guidelines suggested by the CDC. For more, please visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/15-day-pause.html
Regarding Emergency Maintenance: Email on March 24, 2020
Office personnel are now working from home or under strict instruction not to interact with the public. If you need assistance, please call or email.
Maintenance personnel will report to work to perform emergency maintenance service requests only. Our maintenance technicians have been asked to wear protective gear when going inside a unit.
If you are ill, you have an ethical duty to inform us before we provide service. We take serious our role to provide essential services, and we want to be careful not to expose our staff who could then spread the virus to other units and residents.
If you call us for emergency maintenance, you are assuming the risks associated with this virus. An infected person does not exhibit symptoms for 3-14 days and some infected persons never know they are sick. If you submit a ticket at this time, you accept the risks associated with exposure to this virus. We have asked that all staff and vendors check their temperature daily before starting work for us that day.
Maintenance technicians are required to ask you to take your temperature in front of them before they are allowed to cross your threshold. You should have your own thermometer. If they knock and you are home, you must take your temp two times, show your temp, and then move to the back of the home or try to maintain 6′ of distance. Once the technician leaves, you should use a Clorox wipe or bleach and paper towel to wipe up surfaces behind the technician. After you sanitize areas touched by the technician, wash your hand for 20 seconds. If your temp is 99.0 or higher, we might pause service temporarily in order to proceed more prepared.
As more locals become infected, thus increasing the risk of infection, it will be harder to find employees and vendors willing to risk their own health to provide services. Please know that we are trying hard to service emergencies as they arise, and will communicate with you the status of finding someone to help. If and when someone does come, please show them extreme gratitude and cooperate with their requests. They are trying to navigate working in an unusual health environment.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Regarding April and May Rent: Email on March 21, 2020
I realize that many of us are now home on quarantine. Students are not allowed to go to school and child care centers are closed. Retail stores, theaters, museums, bars, coffee shops, places of worship, and even restaurants are closed indefinitely. Many of us earn an hourly rate or a day’s wages for work performed and so quarantine means for many of us no income at this time.
This is stressful and the unknowns are vast. Many of us are concerned about the scarcity of important items – cleaning products, toilet paper, even food. The number of local confirmed COVID-19 cases grows, and yet we all know that this is the start of a trend that could last many weeks. We have no idea when “normalcy” will return.
My team and I are in this with you. We are scared with you. And we will continue to be helpful and hopeful with you. We will get through this challenge together.
I have always been proud of my career choice because I know the importance of providing quality housing to my community. Food, water and shelter are our most important possessions. My team and I are honored to serve you. I take very serious my responsibility to you, especially during this period. I want you to feel secure knowing you have a home during this quarantine period.
As a way to decrease stress related to the pandemic, I offer these:
– No one will be charged a late fee for April or May
– You are now allowed to pay your rent in partial payments. Please pay as much as you are able. We will accept any amount you provide at this time.
– We will not be processing or conducting evictions for April or May. We will not force anyone to move in April or May due to non-payment or a balance. We will continue to enforce other rules in our lease and we will take aggressive actions against anyone who creates disruption or chaos.
Payment Processing Fees Effective until May 31, 2020
– If you use your Tenant Web Access to pay, the $2.95 fee to process ACH payments is waived. I am also splitting credit card processing fees with you. They are typically 3.5%, but I am going to cover 1.75%.
– If you plan to use CashPay, the agent will charge you $5. Pay it and then email Manager@BelhavenResidential.
You will continue to incur charges for rent and water as indicated in your lease contract. At some future point when we can all return to work, you will be asked to fill out a promissory note on the balance you owe. We will work with you individually to tailor a payment plan. We will consider the option to spread out payments in monthly amounts over an extended time. I will proactively seek Federal aid or ways to ease our collective burden, and I will pass on relief and benefits as I receive it.
For those more financially prepared and able to pay rent despite quarantine, please know that we are very grateful and will be a good steward of your payments. We will do all in our power to continue to employ and pay our own staff, and we will continue to service our rental units for emergencies for as long as our staff and vendors are able and willing.
I wish to conclude with a quote by my inspiration, Maya Angelou: “Difficult is a far cry from impossible. The distance between these two lies hope. Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.” Fear is contagious, but so are love and hope. Be mindful about which one you spread. I pray for the health and wellness of you all.
In love and hope,
Response to COVID-19: Email on March 16, 2020
Much has happened within a week regarding COVID-19. The health and wellness of our residents and employees are top priority at this time. We have many residents who are older in age and many who are immune compromised. We wish to minimize our risk of contracting this virus, but we also want to minimize our risk of spreading the virus. The seriousness of a pandemic does affect how we plan to do business for the next several weeks. I will be visiting the website for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as a guide for how businesses should proceed during this time.
The MS Dept of Health publishes on their website important updates about MS COVID-19 cases. I have seen in the news that a JSU student and a medical student of UMMC have tested positive for COVID-19. Mayor Lumumba declared today that Jackson is in a state of civil emergency and prohibits gatherings for 50+ people.
The CDC provides these recommendations at this time: How to Protect Yourself.
COVID-19 is now categorized as a pandemic for several reasons, and I want to share facts about this virus. The virus is airborne and highly contagious. So if you share a room with someone who is infected, and they cough or sneeze, you can contract the virus through the air. This is why you are advised to stay 6 feet away from another person. An infected person may not show symptoms for 3-15 days. Most show symptoms at Day 5, so you can be carrying the virus for several days and unaware of it. The virus lives on dry surfaces for 3 days and longer on wet surfaces (most viruses live on a dry surface for 12 hours). The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have advised a quarantine of all sick AND WELL people to prevent or slow the spread of this virus.
The most telling symptoms of this virus are headache, dry cough, and fever. If you exhibit a fever, you should not leave your home and you should make sure that you have a friend who can bring supplies and check on you physically if you do not answer your phone or texts. What I have learned from reports on those who have contracted the virus in China and Italy, a person will suffer flu-like symptoms for several days and either recover or crash. The crash is related to the virus getting into the lower respiratory system and disrupting oxygen levels to the body. If you are experiencing difficulty breathing and worry you are not getting enough oxygen, you should call the emergency room and notify them that you plan to visit them.
If you are our resident and do not have family or friends in the local vicinity to assist you at this time, please reach out to us. We will try hard to provide additional services at this time, like retrieving groceries for ill residents. We will work with you to create a plan or assist you in finding help.
Office Closed: The Belhaven Residential office will be closed to the public until the morning of April 6. Healthy staff are requested to report to work. Office staff should answer phones and emails during business hours.
Packages: We will not be accepting resident packages at this time.
Payments: We request you pay your rent online using your Tenant Web Access (TWA) or CashPay. We will be working over the next few days with our 3rd party payment processing companies so that we incur their processing fees for March and April. Else, please keep a receipt of those fees and we will add it back as a credit to your account.
If you usually pay with money order, we request you use CashPay for March and April payments. CashPay is a service available at Kroger, Walmart, local pawn shops and bill payment centers. They accept cash. If you do not have a CashPay card or account number assigned to you, reach out to us and we will assign one. CashPay is linked to your resident account with us and when you use this method to pay, we immediately see the payment in our management program. Click on this link for CashPay locations.
Maintenance: We will only be completing tickets that are considered a maintenance emergency. Please use your Tenant Web Access to submit a ticket. If staff does not consider it an emergency but feels they can coach you to make the repair, our maintenance techs may attempt a video call to coach you to fix the issue. We will force close all non-emergency related tickets and you should resubmit them once the quarantine advisory is lifted.
At this time, please be mindful about caring for your rental unit. You should be especially cautious not to flush any item but toilet paper (no tampons, flushable wipes, baby wipes, etc) and you should dispose of grease in a garbage can.
We typically kick off a large preventative maintenance effort in March to prepare your a/c for warmer months. This includes changing the a/c filter, checking your smoke alarm, and checking your fire extinguisher. Our office will plan this week how best to execute this program given our current situation.
I predict we are at the beginning of a long journey with this virus, but for now, our plan is effective until the morning of April 6. We will continue to email updates on policies and procedures. We appreciate your consideration and cooperation at this time.