With the onset of the pandemic in March, Canadian Apartment Properties REIT (TSX:CAR.UN), also known as CAPREIT, appears to have implemented a number of programs aimed at strengthening relationships with the company’s residents and understanding the issues tenants faced. As part of CAPREIT’s compassionate care program, the company made approximately 3,500 calls per month, reaching out to check on the well-being of residents and discussing any rent issues tenants were experiencing.
Loyal tenant base
These initiatives appear to have helped build a loyal tenant base. To help residents, CAPREIT’s rent-payment programs assisted many through challenging times, and at year-end, approved payment plans represented approximately 0.5% of the company’s resident base. CAPREIT also temporarily and voluntarily suspended any rent increases beginning in April 2020, before any legislative restrictions were introduced.
Considerable investments in technology solutions
Further, CAPREIT has made considerable investments in technology solutions to make the company’s business processes more efficient and scalable. During the pandemic, these new solutions appear to have proven invaluable. CAPREIT accelerated the launch of resident portals during the year, enabling residents to transact with it virtually.
Enhancing convenience for residents and improving the timing of rent collections
A key feature was CAPREIT’s pre-authorized payment plan and other online methods of paying rents, enhancing convenience for the company’s residents, and improving the timing of rent collections and the company’s ability to react to resident issues. A key focus through the pandemic has been on rent collections.
Ensuring CAPREIT can keep in touch with prospective new residents
Also, CAPREIT launched virtual property tours and online lease applications to ensure it could keep in touch with prospective new residents. Since March, CAPREIT has reported that it has signed off on average 2,700 leases each quarter remotely, ensuring the safety of the company’s residents and staff and efficiently filling vacant suites.
Strong and stable occupancies
With these and other programs, it appears that occupancies remained strong and stable during the pandemic, ending the year at 97.5%. Another reason for CAPREIT’s strong performance during the pandemic, and over the past many years, is the company’s commitment to diversity. CAPREIT’s success in building a diverse and inclusive workforce helps it to better interact with and support the company’s communities.
Delivering innovative approaches and solutions
This appears to enable it to deliver innovative approaches and solutions both within and outside the organization. Also, CAPREIT’s employee base includes an almost equal gender split between men and women, and since 2017, women have represented about half of the company’s annual recruitment. It also appears that more than 55 languages are spoken at CAPREIT, a reflection of the diverse makeup of the Canadian population and the company’s resident communities.
Highly multi-generational workforce
CAPREIT’s workforce is also highly multi-generational, and this ensures that the company represents the interests of all age groups. CAPREIT works with social housing agencies and programs, leasing suites to those who need it the most. Almost 2,100 apartments in CAPREIT’s portfolio have been leased by agencies for people in need. This has done wonders for CAPREIT’s reputation and possibly enhanced the company’s intrinsic value.