Before COVID-19 entered the U.S., communal living was gaining in popularity with adults looking for affordable, socially-connected housing. However, now that social distancing is the norm, how can property managers keep co-living tenants safe? What does the future hold for co-living communities?
What is Co-Living?
While not a new concept, co-living is making a resurgence in many American cities. As housing costs rise and young people wait longer to buy houses and start families, more individuals choose to rent rooms in larger communal living space. “Co-living,” or communal living as it’s sometimes known, is much like college dorm living, but for adults. Renters lease a private room in a living community with many other tenants.
These co-living communities feature shared kitchens, gathering areas such as game rooms or media rooms, and sometimes even shared bathrooms. They provide free WiFi and utilities, along with cleaning services and laundry service in some cases. Many come fully furnished. And they’re geared toward a younger, tech-savvy crowd, so tenants pay rent and contact management via apps.
Unlike traditional apartments, co-living communities often offer short-term leases, so they’re popular with professionals who are in town on business, or who don’t yet know where they’ll be in six months.
Why is Co-Living so Popular?
Rents have skyrocketed across the nation, particularly in large cities. Many Americans are finding it harder to get ahead and stay ahead financially. The cost of co-living is often lower than apartment living, and residents can enjoy luxury amenities at a budget price.
Co-living feels like the perfect solution for many: a private room, but common areas where residents can connect with other like-minded people.
Unlike sharing an apartment with one or two roommates, co-living focuses on building community. The property owners create space where dozens of residents can form relationships and network with other like-minded individuals.
How Co-Living Communities Reacting to the COVID Pandemic
Communal living in the age of Coronavirus certainly presents challenges. In a co-living community, most of a tenant’s daily life is spent in common areas. Living rooms, dining, kitchens, patios, gyms, and laundry rooms are open to all residents. Some co-living communities have shared bathrooms, too.
There are many surfaces touched by dozens of residents daily. Refrigerator handles, door handles, light switches, television remotes – the virus could be lurking on any of them.
In a world where health experts suggest staying six feet apart and avoiding large groups, how can residents in communal living possibly protect themselves?
That’s the challenge for the companies that own and operate co-living communities. Many management teams are enacting strict distancing and sanitation requirements at their facilities, trying to keep residents away from one another to maintain a healthy environment.
How Property Managers and Owners Can Protect Tenants
It’s a challenging time for property managers and tenants alike. Some residents have lost employment due to Coronavirus shutdowns. Therefore, many tenants are unable to pay rent, leaving property managers scrambling to find solutions.
Moreover, as the Coronavirus continues to spread, property managers must find ways to keep their tenants safe and healthy. But in a living situation where community is a crucial component for residents, how can managers both protect their residents and keep them connected with one another?
Social Distancing and Sanitation
First, co-living property managers are enacting rules to keep residents and staff safe. These include measures like:
· Maintaining social distancing between residents at all times.
· Limiting the capacity of common areas to only a few residents.
· Forbid guests from entering the property until the pandemic is over.
· Closing common areas, like living rooms, dining areas, or gyms.
· Requiring residents to use hand sanitizer when entering the building or entering common areas.
· Reminding residents to stay inside their rooms if they feel ill.
· Providing plenty of necessities like toilet paper, cleaning products, and paper towels for residents to use.
· Dramatically increase cleaning and sanitation measures, particularly in high-traffic areas like bathrooms, kitchens, entrances and exits, and other common areas.
Co-living property managers should also remind residents to practice good hand hygiene, stay in their rooms whenever possible, and continue to monitor state and local recommendations.
Many residents choose co-living because it fosters a strong sense of connectedness. However, the Coronavirus is keeping residents apart. For property managers, the challenge is to find ways to keep residents connected, even if they can’t meet face-to-face.
Property managers can get creative. Many co-living residents are already young, tech-savvy professionals. Therefore, property managers can create virtual meet-ups, hold virtual community wine tastings, or hold a Zoom trivia party. Finding creative ways to keep tenants engaged – both with management and with one another – will help everyone weather this storm.
The Future of Co-Living
It’s impossible to know the long-term implications Coronavirus will have on the economy, the real estate sector, or co-living communities. Some experts predict the virus may help co-living in the long-term because living through a pandemic changes our priorities. We’ve learned the value of looking out for our neighbors. In the end, that may bring even more residents to communal living communities.
For now, residents and property managers will increase their sanitation and hygiene practices while trying to find ways for residents to stay engaged safely.
Are you a co-living property owner or property manager? We would love to hear how you are keeping your residents safe and helping them stay connected! Drop us a comment below or Contact us today!
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