There are so many aspects to cover these days. The entire world is truly in uncharted territory. It seems almost trivial to wonder whether tenants will pay rent on April 1, and May 1 and June 1? Landlords truly don’t know how many tenants will have been laid off, and how many will simply not pay rent in anticipation of the need to conserve cash. These things may happen.

We are in a moment of crisis, globally. It’s far more important to focus on staying healthy and keeping people who have existing health risks well isolated from any possible path of infection. The heartbreaking stories circulating the news services are incredible. There’s the story of a A Japanese man from Gamagori in central Japan with liver cancer and the new coronavirus wanted to enjoy a last night out before going to the hospital. He held hands with a hostess who so far hasn’t tested positive but he ended up infecting another employee at a karaoke bar and causing a national uproar. On Wednesday, he died, just two weeks after what turned out to be his last song.

There’s the story of an Italian nursing home with the small town of Cremona. I’ve visited that town many times. This nursing home has 460 beds. In the past week there had been 18 deaths at this facility of patients with respiratory difficulties – symptoms associated with the coronavirus on just a single day. None of these residents had been tested and therefore none of them fall into the official Covid-19 death-toll. So far in Italy, about 8% of healthcare workers have been infected. In the United States, the Center for Disease control has advised health care workers that if they exhibit symptoms of the virus, to put on a mask and gloves and get back to work. 

It’s amazing to me that there are still people out there thinking this Covid-19 thing is totally overblown. I’m seeing people lose friendships over a difference of opinion about this outbreak. It’s amazing how this is challenging some closely held beliefs for some to the point of rupturing life long friendships. I think this is because the most basic of human survival is at stake.

On today’s show we’re talking about how you as landlords can open a dialog with tenants and how the government is making overtures that they plan to make direct cash payments to the population within the next month. You have an early warning that you need to take action to strengthen your balance sheet. If you have access to lines of credit, I recommend that you draw on those funds before the lines get pulled back.

The White House has proposed nearly a trillion dollars in emergency funding, and up to $250 billion of that trillion dollars going directly to citizens. This spending will require an act of Congress, and details are still being worked out.

The Canadian government has recalled Parliament and is expecting a bailout package for ordinary citizens that will be available in the next two to three weeks. While many programs discussed publicly have focused on employees, we have to remember that the economy has an increasing number of self employed workers. These include the entire spectrum from lawyers, doctors and dentists, to folks who drive for Uber and Lyft. None of them would qualify for traditional unemployment insurance benefits. Oh yes, that also includes real estate investors.

It reminds me of a simple example where if you, as a single landlord run out of cash, you might be forced to declare bankruptcy. In that situation, you have a problem. But when tens of millions of people run out of cash, then the banks have a problem, and the government has a problem.

There will be an increasing number of programs coming available. Banks will be asked to do their part to help their customers. The banks will only do so if they believe the government will backstop any financial commitments made.