Navigating an Unprecedented Crisis
Businesses around the world continue to work through what’s required to navigate the new normal as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – and Invitation Homes is no exception. From day one our top priority has been protecting the health and safety of our residents and associates. All actions we have taken since the start of the pandemic have been based on our core values of Genuine Care, Unshakeable Integrity, Continuous Excellence, and Standout Citizenship.
We are proud of the way our team has adjusted to this new operating environment and will continue to learn from lessons that have come our way over the past few months. Below are several priorities we focused on during this period in order to protect our residents, our associates, and our business.
Ensuring Residents Can Stay in Their Homes
Our mission is ‘Together with you, we make a house a home,’ and we have been focused on living that mission by helping residents weather this crisis safely in their homes. We know that some of our residents are experiencing hardship as a result of this pandemic. We also know that everyone is experiencing this situation differently.
While most of our residents have been able to continue to meet their lease obligations, we are committed to working with those who are not able to fully pay by implementing a payment plan that will help them meet their obligations over time.
Reducing Risks for Our Residents and Front-Line Associates
For our front-line team – those associates that enter residents’ homes for maintenance or other in-home activities – we are taking several actions to ensure that they and the residents they interact with remain healthy.
First and foremost, we are observing social distancing and sanitary best practices throughout all operations, and we are asking current and future residents to do the same when we interact with them. We also have continued to provide personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, booties, hand sanitizer, and soap to our associates. And, like many other businesses, we’re using a series of health-related questions prior to all interactions with current and future residents.
For our leasing activities, we employ a couple of technological assets that help potential residents view homes without contact. First, we offer virtual tours on our web site on nearly half of our homes for lease. We also utilize Smart Home technology, including smart locks, which enable us to offer self-show tours for our future residents. This feature has been part of our playbook for the last few years and is an even bigger benefit in today’s environment. For those who still desire to interact with a leasing agent, we follow strict social distancing protocols.
Our maintenance team has remained hard at work, despite social distancing limits. We quickly adjusted our maintenance protocols to focus on urgent and critical maintenance during the height of the “safer at home” initiatives in all of our markets. We moved some of our services – like resident orientations and pre move-out visits – to virtual interactions, an option we’ll continue to use when it makes sense.
In early June, we began restoring some routine maintenance services and working through the backlog that had accumulated over a couple of months.
For our associates, we have ensured that any health issues directly related to COVID-19 were handled carefully and with the utmost respect and concern for the associates’ needs. We made COVID-19 testing free for all covered associates and dependents, offered free virtual visits for a period of time, and regularly reminded associates of the benefits we offer that help with stress and self-care. Further, we offer robust medical benefits options that provide for preventive, routine and emergency care for any covered family member.
Supporting Policy Changes
A crisis of this magnitude has required government intervention in order to protect the economy. We have advocated for that intervention to include support for the full rental-home supply chain, including renters and landlords. In turn, this also protects the many small businesses and government entities that depend on the support of homeowners, as landlords across America rely on rental income to pay the mortgages and taxes on their rental homes, and for some, to pay their employees and local vendors who take care of the homes.
We worked with the National Rental Home Council (NRHC) and its other member companies to develop a proposed solution designed to help both renters and those employed in the rental industry. The program, which we’ve discussed with several key legislators, is designed as a long-term, interest-free loan administered through the federal tax system. In this proposal, some portion or all of the loan may be forgiven for select taxpayers as determined by policymakers. Invitation Homes looks forward to continuing its work with policymakers to enact solutions that ensure Americans can stay in their homes and that the industry remains strong.
Committed to Learning and Improving
The past few months have shown us that our associates are highly adaptable and steadfastly committed to providing safe homes and genuine care that bring comfort to the lives of thousands of families in these trying times. We will continue to learn lessons and establish best practices as we navigate this crisis. And most importantly, we will continue to be guided by our mission statement of ‘Together with you, we make a house a home,’ which resonates now more than ever.