Currently, the world is amid a pandemic like we have never seen in our lifetimes. The novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has spread across the globe and is now affecting all of America. Businesses are shuttered, transportation halted, and families isolated inside their homes. Property owners and property managers face a particular challenge during this time. While other businesses can send their customers home to stay safe, property managers must keep their clients’ homes safe.
How can owners and property managers keep their tenants and communities healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Create a Pandemic Response Plan
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. If you haven’t already, your executive team should create an emergency response plan. Who will take over if your CEO needs to self-quarantine? Which team members must remain in the office, if any? How can your staff effectively work from home? How can you ensure your employees continue to get paid? What is the contingency plan if the government forbids unnecessary movement?
Consider all possible outcomes, using other countries as an example of what we can expect. Create emergency plans and procedures for each possibility, and communicate those plans with all executives and staff. It’s also important to communicate regularly with your tenants. They’ll want to know that their community and their homes are safe, so keep them updated as much as possible. Let them know that you’re committed to their safety and wellbeing and that you’ve got a plan to keep the virus from spreading in your community.
Increase Cleaning and Disinfecting
This COVID-19 virus can live on hard surfaces – like door handles, light switches, and appliances – for up to 72 hours, according to a new study. Therefore, the best way to protect your apartment residents is to clean shared surfaces regularly. Boost your janitorial staff if possible, increase their hours, and clean all common areas thoroughly several times a day. Cleaning staff should pay special attention to high-traffic surfaces.
Remember, too, that not all cleaning supplies will kill the virus. Cleaning solutions need to contain either bleach or ammonia or contain at least 70% alcohol. Click here to learn which products are effective.
Shut Down Common Areas Where Possible
The best way to keep viruses from landing on common surfaces is to keep people away from those areas. Shut down any non-essential gathering spaces on your property, like exercise rooms, collective kitchens and meeting areas, cafes, lobbies, and clubhouses.
Necessary common areas like laundry rooms and management offices should be used with extreme caution. Increase cleaning in these areas and provide hand sanitizer whenever possible.
Educate and Encourage Tenants
By now, we’ve seen the news, read the stories online, and been blasted about the Coronavirus on social media. Still, it’s a good idea to remind your tenants and staff to take protective measures. Send email or text updates asking tenants to stay inside if they feel ill. Place signs encouraging both tenants and staff to wash their hands regularly and cover their coughs. Regular reminders will encourage everyone to comply with CDC regulations and keep the virus from spreading. You might also consider installing and filling hand sanitizer pumps in common areas.
The CDC recommends limiting in-person interactions whenever possible. For property owners and managers, this means finding new ways to communicate with clients and tenants effectively and safely.
For the foreseeable future, move to an online forum. Connect with tenants, take maintenance requests, and send out vital information via text, phone, email, or another electronic source whenever possible. Limit your face-to-face interactions during this pandemic.
Create Virtual Tours for Prospective Tenants
We know that the real estate business doesn’t stop for COVID-19. While you may see a slowdown in the number of tenants moving in, the need for housing doesn’t stop during a pandemic.
However, to protect yourself, your staff, and prospective tenants, consider moving tours online. Work with your IT and marketing team to create virtual tours and 3D floorplans. This way, you can encourage possible tenants to tour the property from the safety of their own home, protecting both them and you from potential exposure.
Practice Social Distancing and Personal Hygiene
We know you’re sick of hearing this, but it truly is the best advice: practice social distancing and wash those hands. The CDC recommends people stay at least six feet apart in social settings to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, particularly after being in a public area. Don’t shake hands with tenants or co-workers.
Cough and sneeze into your elbow. And if you have any Coronavirus symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days and contact your medical professional. Your tenants and the property management staff can stay healthy during this pandemic. By instituting these strategies to protect yourself and others, you can continue to serve your tenants well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Designated Broker Solutions, we are fully licensed in 36 states, ready to help owners and property management teams meet all state-specific guidelines. Contact us today!
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