Written by: Eric Davis
We’re past the one-year mark when the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus as a global pandemic. It is an anniversary that no one looks forward to. It means that it has been a year since the pandemic has shut down industries, locked down nations, and turned the global economy over on its head. Each and every person on the globe have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another.
Thankfully, we’ve recently had some good news. Health experts from all over the world have made great strides in vaccine development and have started to make vaccines available worldwide. We are starting to see hope that life will return to pre-Covid normal. However, the storm is far from over. We have yet to achieve herd immunity – that is when a large part of the population of an area is immune to a specific disease. Scientists initially estimate that 60 to 70% of the population needs to acquire resistance to the Coronavirus before we can achieve herd immunity. Due diligence is still needed in order to keep an unseen enemy at bay. We should still practice social distancing and safety and sanitation procedures not only to keep our families safe but to keep others safe as well. Thousands of new cases are still being reported on a daily basis. As responsible citizens, it is imperative that property managers, landlords, and tenants work together to keep their environment safe.
What actions must be taken by a property manager in order to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak:
● Have an updated cleaning policy which is in accordance with community standards or local government requirements. It is important to inform all tenants and to make these updates visible in all common areas to make sure that everyone is aware of these cleaning policies.
● Inform all tenants of where they can find the most up-to-date information regarding safety protocols. While social media is one of the fastest ways to reach tenants and all stakeholders, you may also use print media like posters or digital media like email updates and newsletters. You may point tenants to reliable and updated health organization websites, like the Department of Health website or WHO website (e.g. https://www.doh.wa.gov/ or the World Health Organization website).
● Provide all tenants and stakeholders with your up-to-date contact information and emergency numbers. Make use of print, social, or digital media.
● Always adhere to CDC cleaning recommendations, local community safety guidelines, and social distancing guidelines.
● Ensure that all your properties adhere to your local Stay at Home or Shelter in Place orders.
● Have a plan to implement regular sanitation, especially high-touch, high-traffic areas. The CDC has this outline for cleaning and disinfecting facilities.
● Increase the frequency of building cleaning and sanitation.
● Have hand sanitizers and alcohol dispensers available at high-traffic areas. Also, make these items available to tenants if possible.
To comply with safety protocols while providing quick action to maintenance and repair requests from tenants, property managers should offer, even encourage, the option to submit requests online. Immediate action must be taken to address the request to avoid the need for bigger and more expensive repairs or worse, irreparable damage that could cause safety issues to tenants in the future. Regular repair and maintenance services are still important even in a pandemic. These procedures protect the property, prevent further damage to the building and facilities, and keep tenants safe, so requests for repairs and regular maintenance must not be delayed.
Encouraging online maintenance requests ensure that both parties can avoid the threat of contracting the virus yet still be able to communicate their concerns to each other. Property managers should request for a detailed description of the request and photos of the area that needs to be repaired or serviced.
Property maintenance tips
What property managers must ensure when fulfilling maintenance and repair requests:
● Property managers should have a well-thought plan of action in addressing the repair/maintenance issue/s based on the detailed description submitted by the tenant.
● Once the repair/maintenance plan has been approved and ready to be implemented, advise tenants to follow the required social distance, per CDC guidelines, from any personnel who will be doing repairs or maintenance in the home.
● Advice the maintenance team to follow the same required distance, per CDC guidelines, from any tenants while doing repairs and maintenance
● Ask if tenants would be willing to stay in another room while repair work is being completed. Advise them how it would be in their best interest to practice safe social distancing when repair/maintenance work is ongoing.
● Always provide protective gear for your maintenance team, including, but not limited to:
○ Face covering, face shield, or protective mask
○ Shoe covers
● Advice the maintenance team to disinfect shoes (or even take them off, if safe to do so) before entering the home.
When doing repair or maintenance work, time is of the essence. The longer it takes to work on a problem area, the more time both tenants and maintenance/ repair teams are exposed to potentially contracting the virus. This is why a well-detailed description of the issue and a well-thought plan of action are both necessary in order to reliably execute repairs in a timely manner. In case of multiple issues, a maintenance/ repair plan would help the service team map out which issues to address first and be able to efficiently manage their time.
We still have a long way to go before we can say it is safe to go back to our normal ways. In the meantime, property managers must adapt a “Covid-normal” plan of action to prevent their properties from coming into disrepair. They must balance proper planning with a full implementation of CDC recommendations, and they must be able to communicate that with all tenants and stakeholders to maintain a safe and healthy environment for all who are involved.
Here at Davis Property Management, we believe that advance preparation is essential to implement repairs and maintenance while adhering to safety protocols. Safety is of utmost priority and we believe we can help clients through all their property management needs while prioritizing safety. Call us today at 425-658-7471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.
Here’s a video that gives you a list of how can you manage your property during this pandemic.
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