During a time of such uncertainty, you’re likely trying to grapple with not only how to protect
your health and family, but also your business. To protect your tenants and the community, you
may have found yourself wondering what restrictions can you enforce on your property Building Access During COVID-19.
Currently, there are legally binding guidelines around social distancing in place in the majority
of the country. As many as three-quarters of the country are presently under shelter-in-place
orders, and it’s something we as a society must take seriously. So what happens if your tenant
isn’t following social distancing protocols? Can you, as the landlord, enforce compliance?
What the Law Says About Building Access During COVID-19
Legally, landlords cannot restrict tenants from having guests, even amidst the social distancing
or stay-at-home orders. There are several legitimate reasons that tenants may have additional
persons on the premises. For instance, they could be essential caregivers or grocery or
medicine delivery persons, among other possibilities. Any of these people have legitimate cause
for being on the property, and it would be not only unnecessary but also harmful –– and illegal
–– to attempt to interfere.
That said, as the landlord, there are times you can legally interfere. If your tenants violate the
order of maximum people in a gathering –– which varies by state –– you can, and should,
What You Should Do About Building Access During COVID-19
As a landlord, there are things you can do to help contain the spread of COVID-19. First, you
must practice responsible social distancing and shelter-in-place orders yourself. That does not
mean letting your property go mismanaged. Instead, you must leverage technology.
Whenever possible, email tenants rather than meeting with them. Ensure you translate your
emails, and distribute them at a time of day, or night, when you are not going to be in contact
or within 6-feet of others. Any communications should be worded as a suggestion or urge, not
an outright ban.
More than anything, you must trust your tenants to make responsible decisions for themselves
and the community. And, in the event that they do not make these decisions on their own,
contact the proper authorities to enforce compliance.