The pandemic has caused disruptions to rental markets and rental practices. As landlords and tenants alike learn to adjust to the new normal, it’s important that landlords keep their business safe by being informed and proactive about protecting their tenants and their properties during this crisis. By keeping properties safe and by proactively addressing COVID-19 concerns, landlords can help to avoid COVID outbreaks, community spreading, a rise in vacancies, a decline in tenant relationships, or a decline in community reputation. Here are some practical tips for how landlords can do this.
Communicate with Tenants Regularly throughout the Pandemic
Recommendations, community conditions, and information on COVID-19 change rapidly. As a result, it’s important to regularly share updates and new guidance with tenants to keep your business safe. The simple act of keeping tenants updated lets them know that you’re taking the pandemic seriously and working to keep them protected. This goes a long way towards making tenants feel safe in your building. If you haven’t already, send a letter with:
- The steps that you’re taking to protect against the virus, including details of those steps
- Information about what tenants should do to protect themselves and others
- A reminder that you’re monitoring the situation and will keep them updated on any changes.
After sending a thorough update, commit to regular COVID-19 updates, sharing any new precautions you’re taking, new guidance from the CDC, or other relevant information for your community. A little extra communication can go a long way towards making tenants feel at ease.
Ensure all Necessary Protective Policies are in Place and Effective
The CDC and other organizations have provided extensive guidance on how to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 and community spreading in multi-family housing. Landlords should regularly review that information and ensure that they’re implementing all necessary precautions. Additionally, staying up to date on all specific state regulations will help to ensure that landlords are complying with local guidelines and regulations.
In addition to staying updated, there are some common precautions that all landlords should be taking. These include:
- Extra cleaning procedures for common spaces including stairwells, hand railings, elevators, public door handles, and common areas. Further, it’s a good idea to consistently train staff on how to effectively disinfect common areas and to ensure adequate cleaning supplies in all buildings.
- Providing hand sanitizer or soap in common areas.
- Educating tenants on ways that they can stay safe. Education plays a big role in limiting the spread of the coronavirus, so take every opportunity to help educate tenants on what they can do to help, including washing hands properly and regularly, wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and staying home when sick. Posting signs throughout buildings and including specific advice in your communications sent to tenants can help to keep your properties safe.
- Implementing new guidelines for common areas and gatherings. Landlords should set new procedures for how tenants use shared spaces like exercise facilities, rec rooms, and laundry rooms, for example limiting the number of people allowed at a time, requiring a reservation, or, in some cases, temporarily closing shared spaces.
Other Precautions to Consider for Business Safety
In addition to following all local and national recommendations, there are some additional steps that landlords can consider to help make their buildings and business even safer and to ensure that tenants and prospective tenants feel safe. For example,
- Ensuring adequate ventilation. Checking the quality of ventilation systems, increasing outdoor air ventilation, increasing total airflow, and improving air filtration are just a few ways that you can improve ventilation in buildings. Consider talking with an HVAC professional or reviewing some of the COVID-specific research to decide what steps might be necessary or helpful for your properties.
- Utilizing online tools to minimize contact. Allowing tenants to pay online and submit maintenance requests online is a simple way to reduce contact and make your properties safer.
- Prioritize maintenance requests. While it’s important to keep properties in good condition and to meet tenants’ needs, consider holding off on non-emergent maintenance requests to limit contact and individuals in and out of buildings and units. When doing this, create an explicit plan for how you’ll be handling maintenance requests and share it with all tenants.
COVID-19 has obviously changed many things for landlords and tenants. However, with the right procedures and systems, landlords can help keep their properties safe and thriving throughout the pandemic. For additional help with regulations, tools, or advice, visit ezLandlord Forms.