FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.– Throughout the past few days, several people contacted KNWA/Fox 24 to express concern that property managers weren’t going to budge on lease agreements signed before the COVID-19 outbreak put jobs and cashflow at risk. The biggest property management company in Northwest Arkansas announced it’ll give tenants more time to pay rent without demanding late fees.
Marcus and Rebecca Lane live in Fayetteville and operate a cleaning service. Illnesses forced a cancelled cleaning sessions last month, and the coronavirus outbreak threatens to cancel even more, putting fear in the Lanes’ minds that they might not be able to pay rent at the first of the month. The $10-per-day late fee charges could prove difficult to overcome.
“About two weeks ago, they cancelled our amenities due to the COVID-19 response. I get that,” Marcus Lane said. “We’ve lot a lot of work because of this. But they’re still going forward with their $10-a-day late fees and evictions, and their eviction process [is] pretty brutal here.”
There are people going through even worse and could wind up homeless if apartment managers don’t amend their policies, Rebecca Lane said.
“There are a lot of people who not only face evictions, but we’re being told of people who are dealing with rent increases during this,” Rebecca Lane said, referencing social media dialogue she and her husband had when they decided to investigate the problem. “The response on social media was pretty troubling, because it let me understand just how many in our community are going to be affected by this.”
Much of the frustration expressed by community members to KNWA/Fox 24 was toward Lindsey Management, the biggest property management company in Northwest Arkansas. The company owns 25 complexes near Fayetteville alone, according to its website. The Lanes live in one of those Fayetteville buildings.
“Hey, do something [to help your tenants],” Marcus Lane said. “There’s a lot of people that can help, like the people Lindsey Management.”
The desire to help fellow tenants was a driving force to reach out to KNWA/Fox 24, Marcus Lane said.
“We are huge advocates for truth, transparency and helping our fellow humans,” Marcus Lane said. “We are not self-seeking, otherwise we never would have went on the air. We aren’t mad at Lindsey, we just want them to do the right thing.”
After reaching out to Lindsey Management’s legal team, KNWA/Fox 24 received a statement from “Lyndy” Lindsey, the company’s CEO.
“The multi-family apartment communities to which Lindsey Management Co., Inc. provides management services love all of their Residents [sic], and only want the best for them,” Lindsey said. “In an effort to assist those residents that have lost their jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus, the apartment communities will allow more time to pay rent without charging late fees. We hope the best for all of America during this trying time.”
Late fees can be crippling to tenants during a time when expected cashflow is halted, Rebecca Lane said.
“I’m a huge advocate right now for there to be a halt on evictions, let alone late fees,” Rebecca Lane said. “That just compounds the problem we’re already facing. I’m wanting to hopefully prevent homelessness.”
Apartment managers throughout Arkansas should consider eliminating evictions and easing up on traditional rent demands, Marcus Lane said, and community understanding should overshadow anything else.
“We would love if all apartment complexes could do this for everyone during this time,” Marcus Lane said. “It ain’t just about us, it’s about everyone. We’re all in this together.”