Eric Bolton, chairman and CEO of MAA (NYSE: MAA), participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITweek: Virtual Investor Conference (held June 2-4).
Bolton said that MAA has been able to weather the pandemic through previous investments the REIT made in a communication platform and technology, including virtual leasing through its resident portal.
“Anytime you get into a bit of a crisis, that communication platform becomes critical,” Bolton said. “[It allows] ultimately a calm, rational approach to be taken to whatever issues that you may be facing.”
Bolton said that on MAA’s Q1 earnings call, the REIT addressed how the pandemic is affecting the business and its employees, but also its residents who may be facing a loss of income.
“[We highlighted] what we’re doing to help them with their April and May rent [and] what we’re doing to allow them to stay in their homes during a time when they really needed to be in their homes,” Bolton said. He also stressed the importance of paying rent if you are able, noting it “allows all of us to help those who have been hurt.”
Bolton said that in the short-term post-pandemic, social distancing will change the use of some of MAA’s amenities, including elevator and fitness facility usage. In the long-term, he sees increased work from home making units with a second bedroom or den becoming more popular.