To our residents:
We are in uncertain and uncharted times right now and we know that housing is likely at the top of your minds as a basic and essential need. We also know that as things like work and school closures increase, your incomes and situations are likely being affected, for some quite drastically.
We have been humbled by the overwhelming calls of support and positivity we have received from residents thanking our staff for continuing their hard work. This helps keep us going. The community mindset and understanding of how important “togetherness” is during this time along with the outpouring of requests from residents asking if there is anything you can do to help support others in need is phenomenal. This is the spirit that drives us as Minnesotans and we are proud to be serving you all.
As it has always been our mission to provide management support to the Greater Mankato area multi-housing community, we are now, more than ever concerned with the new environment in which many of our residents are facing. Which is why we are working non-stop with the owners of the properties you reside in, and our government contacts to see what options, aid, support and assistance is available to our residents during this time. We realize not having immediate answers is challenging and can cause anxiety to rise. Please know that we absolutely appreciate and empathize with these very legitimate feelings. We assure you that we are working around the clock to get more answers, support, information on programs, etc. that can help our residents during this difficult time. Below are some FAQs that we hope can provide you with some additional insight.
Q: I lost my job/my school is closed/my situation and/or income has changed due to this crisis. Can I be let out of my lease?
A: At this time, the government is still recognizing all leases as legally binding contracts that must be fulfilled based on the terms and conditions listed within it. What that means is, our company must, by law, continue to follow and enforce those terms and conditions on behalf of the owner of each property UNLESS otherwise instructed by the individual owner of the property you reside in. We know each property owner is taking a look at their finances to see if there are any ways they can continue to make the payments required of them (mortgage, insurance, etc.) while also trying to offer any sort of assistance to their residents. Please keep in mind, housing laws and regulations require them to offer the exact same assistance or accommodations to every single tenant they have, regardless of situation, without discrimination as outlined by the Fair Housing Act. So they can’t, for example, make accommodations for just students. They need to look at their financials to see if there is anything they can do across every single tenant they have, not just individuals. Many of the owners we manage properties for here in Greater Mankato are individuals or small groups, not large companies or businesses, all who are being significantly impacted by the crisis as well. This crisis has grave implications for all situations and patience, compassion and understanding is important for all at this time.
We are hoping the government will provide assistance and relief soon so both tenants and property owners can either delay rent and mortgage payments without penalty or risk, or provide more money to help. There are new announcements coming regularly from local, state and federal government with assistance programs and we ask you keep up to date on those to learn how to protect yourself and receive this assistance, if needed.
Q: Why can’t or won’t you just let me out of my lease?
A: Atwood Management does not own the property you are in or any of the properties it manages. We understand that there may be a perception that the individual owners could/should let people out of their leases and we can assure you, if they could financially afford to without risking losing their own homes or the property you are in entirely, they would do it. Many of them are feeling the same pains you are with unemployment and income changes in their own jobs. They all have expressed a huge desire to be able to do more for their residents and we are working closely with them to try to find creative ways to do so until additional governmental support and assistance is given. We will continue to keep you updated as new information is made available to us as to how we can help. Please note, because the properties we manage are owned by different people or groups, some may be able to make accommodations or help in ways that others just can’t. As that is worked through, we will post info surrounding that in additional updates below.
Q: If I can’t be let out of my lease but can no longer afford to pay my rent due to the current conditions, what do I do?
A: We understand that your income may have changed due to this crisis, and quite suddenly. That is a scary and frustrating position to be in. While we are working hard to help our property owners make sure their properties don’t slip into foreclosure, we are also trying to learn about any and all resources we can point our residents to during this hardship. The White House and State of MN have made it clear that tenants and homeowners need to continue paying their rents and mortgages but have detailed specific programs for assistance funds in order to help. We have gathered helpful links to this information and additional resources for you on our Resource Page. Please seek this assistance if you are in need. There are some great resources that can aid you in continuing to cover your rent and be protected. Our team is also available to talk through any adjustments that may need to be made while you wait for that assistance to arrive.
Q: I have applied for assistance but it hasn’t arrived yet and my rent is due. What do I do?
A: Please notify us as soon as possible in advance if your rent will be delayed along with the timeframe in which you will have it so that we can help our owners plan accordingly. We do accept credit card payments, which may be an option to get you through until your assistance arrives. Again, we understand these are unprecedented times and will do everything we can to help you and the owner of your property navigate these difficult times.
Q: Will I be charged a late fee?
A: The owner of your properties incur late fee charges on their mortgage payments just as you do. So while late fees are not being waived at this time, please be aware the fee charged is based on the remaining balance owed. So by paying whatever you can, even if it isn’t the full amount, your late fee will reduce accordingly. As mentioned above, please notify us as soon as possible in advance if your total rent due will be delayed.
Q: I read that I can’t get evicted at this time, even if I don’t pay my rent. Is that true?
A: The State of MN has enacted a temporary eviction suspension for tenants during this time. While we strongly advise you do whatever possible to continue paying your rent, you cannot be evicted if your account becomes delinquent at this time. However, you are still responsible for all rent due on your account, including any months previously missed. While not paying now may help you delay the expense, the total rent remaining on your account will still be owed. In addition, your property owner could still start the eviction process during this time to recover damages after the crisis is over. And you can still be turned over to collections or taken to court. This is why we strongly encourage you to seek the specific programs already set up to provide funding assistance.
Q: My job/school no longer requires me to be in Greater Mankato so I am moving elsewhere, can I get out of my lease?
A: We understand that for many of our residents, circumstances have now changed, and they will no longer be in Greater Mankato during this quarantine. As a reminder, a lease is a contractually binding document that protects both parties – the owner of the property AND you as the tenant. Just as you are protected from the owner canceling your lease because their situation has changed, they are protected equally from yours changing. We understand that these are extenuating circumstances for all, but our government has made it clear that both owners and tenants alike need to continue fulfilling their lease terms and paying their rents and mortgages.
While your lease contract still requires you to fulfill the terms and conditions listed within, Atwood Management has an excellent RELET program. This program allows you to get out of your lease earlier, as soon as a new tenant has been found. If you would like more information about this program please email our leasing team at email@example.com. Please note: with the current quarantine conditions please understand it may be more difficult or take more time to find people to take over your lease as many are in similar situations. We will do everything we can to help guide you through the RELET options.
Q: What else is Atwood Management doing to help?
A: As mentioned, every property we manage has its own owner. We are the management team between the owners of the properties and you, the residents, similar to how a real estate agent manages the transaction between their buyer and the seller. While we do our absolute best to serve both our owners and our residents, we owe fiduciary responsibilities to the owners and it is they who determine things like adjustments to rent, approve (or not) repairs and improvements as well as make decisions regarding lease terms.
While we don’t have control over the decision-making of the properties we manage, we are working with our property owners to determine if we can begin taking credit card payments online, waiving revised lease fees and reducing assisted re-let fees significantly which will only be charged IF our leasing agent helps find a new tenant to take over your lease.
We are also doing everything we can to keep our own small team of people employed. We are looking at creative ways to do this as well by offering our employees paid volunteer opportunities, neighborhood outreach, online learning/storytime to assist parents, and other things so desperately needed by our community during this critical time. Obviously, our ability to do this, like most other businesses, requires an income – which can only be possibly if our owners are collecting rent from you (if you don’t pay, we likely won’t be paid either).
Q: I have a maintenance need. Has anything changed?
A: While we are still available to attend to maintenance needs, the health and safety of our maintenance staff and residents are of utmost priority. For non-emergency maintenance needs, please submit your request online so we can keep our phones clear for matters of urgency and emergency. When placing a maintenance request, be prepared to answer questions regarding the health of your household members. We need honest answers to these questions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of everyone and our maintenance technicians are prepared in taking proper precautions. You may also be asked to temporarily vacate your home while our technicians are working inside.
Q: The State of MN has issued a “Stay-at-Home” order. Does this mean management can’t operate?
A: The short answer is that it does not because Atwood Management is considered an “essential business”. The long answer, which comes from documentation we have been provided with is: “Pursuant to published guidance by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Safety Agency of U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Atwood Management certifies it is an essential business providing critical infrastructure services. Atwood Management is a residential & commercial property management company responsible for the provision and maintenance of properties throughout Southern Minnesota. Employees of Atwood Management performing essential duties requiring presence at offices, rental properties, or supplier locations are deemed exempt from restrictions on movement or physical presence.” This means that employees of Atwood Management have been granted safe passage for the performance of their essential duties.
Q: Where can I find additional updates?
A: We will continuously make updates to our website as the information arrives and send critical updates to our residents via email. Please use this opportunity to ensure your contact information is correct in your Tenant WebAccess portal.
Q: What can we, as residents, do to help?
A: We have seen such tremendous support in our community coming together to continue helping and supporting one another, especially small businesses like us. Like those other small-business owners here in Mankato, we too are trying to find every way possible to keep our team both safe and employed. With your help and continued effort at getting your rent paid on time, along with patience and encouragement towards our hard-working team, we have much hope for the future. In addition, if you have creative ways you or we can help, even within the community please reach out and let us know. It takes a village and we are committed to coming alongside our residents, owners and community to help in every way possible.
Employment Opportunities: https://greatermankatoblog.com/2020/03/30/temporary-employment-opportunities/#more-6272
Financial Assistance: https://www.blueearthcountymn.gov/267/Financial-Assistance
Rental Assistance: http://www.mnhousing.gov/sites/multifamily/rentalassistance
Rental Assistance: https://rentassistance.org/minnesota/mankato_mn.html
Utility Assistance: https://www.mnvac.org/programs/energy/energy-assistance-eap-2/
Student Loan Forgiveness: https://fed-pro.org/studentloans/
Nutrition Assistance: https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/361