Many people are reevaluating where they live as the pandemic continues to affect their work, their social life and their finances.

Some are choosing to stay where they are, some are moving closer to family or into their childhood home, and others are looking for a new place to land with more space or a lower cost. For renters, these decisions typically require interacting with their landlord and possibly reviewing the terms of their lease.

We asked owners of a property management company to answer some common concerns of renters.

  • Can I ask my landlord to extend my lease for a few months because I’m uncomfortable moving at this time?

“If a tenant’s lease is up for renewal, but they aren’t comfortable moving out right now, they can talk to their property manager or landlord,” Jim Elfline, owner of Keyrenter Premier Property Management in Scottsdale, Ariz., wrote in an email. “Covid-19 is a challenging and stressful time, so communication is key right now. Do you want to stay in your unit for another month or two while you figure out your plans? Be proactive. Discuss your concerns with your property manager and request to sign a month-to-month rental agreement.”

  • I want to move away from a congested metro area where the risk of the coronavirus is higher. Can I break my lease?

“The pandemic has caused a lot of people to reevaluate where they live,” Deborah Gomes, owner of Keyrenter Washington DC Property Management, wrote in an email. “Do you want to move away from a crowded city because you want more space and more distance from people? Or do you want to move into the city so you can be closer to work and avoid public transportation and the risk of coronavirus? Try to work out a compromise with your property manager before just deciding to move out. They may be able to find a new renter and agree to ending your lease early.”

  • My landlord wants to show my apartment to future possible tenants, but I feel unsafe letting anyone in my unit right now. What can I do?

“Our homes are our refuge from the pandemic, and we understand that,” Brandon Scholten, owner of Keyrenter Denver Property Management, wrote in an email. “Your lease may give the property manager the authority to bring prospective tenants through the unit. However, these are unprecedented times. Communicate your concerns with your property manager. Volunteer to make a short video tour of your unit or take pictures with your cellphone. We send a $25 gift card to tenants as a thank you for their help. If your property manager insists on an in-person tour, request that everyone wears a mask during the showing and wipe down all door handles and other high-touch surfaces after everyone leaves.”

Tenant and landlord laws affect interactions between renters and property owners, and so does your lease. In every situation, it’s best to check the lease first to understand your rights and responsibilities and then contact the landlord to discuss your options.

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