Minto Apartment REIT has issued an update pertaining to April rent collections, liquidity and changes to operations due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
According to the statement, the REIT’s portfolio of apartment properties in urban locations has performed well since the onset of the pandemic. In April, the vast majority of Minto’s tenants paid their full rent, with 97 per cent of rental revenue received by April 14, 2020—a level it says is consistent with the normal collection cycle.
Recognizing the burden placed on many of its tenants related to the decline in economic activity, Minto Apartment REIT says it will not implement the rent increases that were scheduled to come into effect between April and June. It has also created payment plans that defer rental payments for residents who are unable to pay as a result of the outbreak. As at April 14, it says fewer than 1 per cent of tenants had entered into a deferred payment plan.
Occupancy of available unfurnished suites was 97.34 per cent at March 31, 2020 compared to 98.67 per cent at March 31, 2019. Occupancy in April 2020 remains strong.
On March 31, 2020 Minto Apartment REIT completed a $100 million mortgage financing secured by one of its Ottawa properties, adding significantly to the REIT’s liquidity. The proceeds from this financing were used to pay down outstanding amounts on the REIT’s revolving credit facility. As at April 15, 2020 the REIT has approximately $196 million in funds available through a combination of cash and undrawn lines of credit, which is sufficient to fund all of its obligations for the foreseeable future.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Minto says it has implemented a number of initiatives to prioritize the health and well-being of its tenants, employees, and the communities it operates in, including:
- Operating with limited on-site personnel and ensuring adherence to Health Canada guidelines on personal hygiene and social distancing at all times;
- Closure of all common areas, party rooms and fitness facilities in the REIT’s buildings;
- Regular sanitization of shared surfaces and areas, including doors, railings, foyers and elevators;
- Limiting leasing activities to appointment only, with the use of online tools prioritized;
- Tenants’ requests for repairs and maintenance are to be submitted online or by phone;
- Closure of the REIT’s corporate offices, with all employees that are able to work from home doing so; and
- Ensuring that all critical vendors have business continuity plans in place in the event that the COVID-19 situation worsens.
“We will continue to exercise care and consideration in respect of all of our residents and stakeholders and the REIT will provide further updates and information relating to the impact of COVID-19 when it releases its financial results for the first quarter of 2020 on May 6, 2020,” the statement said.