Property Managers and Landlords—Preventative Steps for Coronavirus
Property managers/landlords want to keep their tenants feeling safe and secure in their rental spaces. In light of the concerns of a COVID-19 pandemic, property managers/landlords should consider taking the following steps to protect their employees, tenants and guests at their property.
1. Stop the spread of germs.
The current symptoms of COVID-19 include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing. COVID – 19 is often spread before any of these symptoms appear and it may be quite difficult to differentiate the symptoms from a cold/flu. In order to help minimize or prevent the transmission of the virus, a property manager/landlord should:
- Increase the frequency of deep cleaning and disinfecting of all common areas, with extra attention to commonly touched surfaces.
- Offer disinfecting wipes to employees to wipe down work areas, computer keyboards and telephones.
- Provide hand sanitizer dispensers in lobby and other common areas of the property.
- Instruct employees to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and/or clean hands often with an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Remind all to avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth and to avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Remind all to cover their mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
- Place CDC information posters throughout the property, in multiple languages, to provide information to employees, tenants and guests on how to prevent the spread of the virus. Current CDC informational posters include:
- Emphasize to employees and/or tenants that they should stay home if they are sick or believe that they could have been exposed to the virus.
- Send employees home from work if they are displaying signs of COVID-19.
2. Protect employees and tenants. A property manager/landlord should take the following steps to try to keep their employees and tenants healthy:
- If an employee needs to enter a tenant’s space for cleaning, maintenance or other services, the employee should wear disposable mask and gloves when they enter the tenant’s space. The gloves and mask should be immediately disposed of when the employee leaves the tenant’s space.
- Employees should be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds immediately before entering and after leaving a tenant’s space.
- Before entering a tenant’s space, the property manager/landlord should inquire if a tenant is feeling sick or displaying any symptoms of the illness. Consider rescheduling nonessential visits (i.e., showing of a space to a prospective tenant).
- If a resident tenant is confirmed to have or is believed to have COVID- 19, do not direct employees to the apartment. Immediately notify the local health department or contact the CDC for guidance regarding appropriate measures to take.
- Consider temporary closure of common areas which may include property work out facilities and/or property meeting rooms.
3. Prevent a disruption of services. A property manager/landlord should review the list of current suppliers and contractors for the property and discuss with these providers their contingency plans if their business is affected with an outbreak. A property manager/landlord should consider whether backup suppliers or contractors should be enlisted in the event current suppliers and contractors are unable to provide essential services such as security services, snow and ice removal and cleaning services. Additionally, a property manager/landlord should consider cross-training key employees at the property in the event of exposure or illness to prevent a disruption of services at the property.
4. Give your employees some space. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Consider spreading out employee work stations so that employees are more than 6 feet apart. When it is an option, provide employees with the technology to work from home. Also, consider upgrading telephone systems, if necessary, to allow employees to retrieve voice mails remotely. This will provide less disruption to the services provided to tenants.
5. Increase communication to employees and tenants. During these uncertain times, tenants and employees will feel safer with increased communication. It is imperative that property management provide transparency in the preventative measures taken at the property to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019. The property manager/landlord should keep it factual and reference the local authorities and CDC recommendations. The property management company/landlord should consider the most efficient means of communication with employees, tenants and guests (e.g., emails, texts and posters on property). It is important to identify the proper contact person to address tenant and/or employee concerns and questions related to the prevention of the virus.
6. Consult with counsel. A landlord or property manager should consider contacting their counsel about the COVID-19 impact on the property, lease obligations, contractual obligations and business operations.