Rental property maintenance under COVID-19 quarantine is a challenge. You may even be asking, is it allowed? How should you be doing rental property upkeep while also upholding social distancing? It is in your tenants’ and property management clients’ best interest that you take all safety measures to prevent a coronavirus outbreak in the building.
We recommend that you check your state and county orders for details, but property maintenance is generally recognized as an essential business. It takes care of the basic need for shelter so you are legally allowed to continue operations. Here are a few tips on how to do rental property maintenance to keep both residents and your team healthy.
Safety Measures Property Managers Should Take During the Coronavirus
- Inform residents about legal restrictions. Display a copy of the social distancing protocol for your county on every entrance of the building.
- Make sure everyone gets your message. Communicate new property maintenance procedures and any changes in working hours or contact details in more than one way – online (email or social media) and offline (phone or flyers under the door).
- Keep your staff safe. Rearrange schedules to encourage social distancing. Provide all protective gear needed.
- Cut personal interactions with tenants. Install a rent drop box or set up an online rent payment option.
- Minimize the exposure to outsiders in the rental property. Provide delivery people with gloves, sanitizer, disposable overshoes, or have the doorman carry the deliveries up to tenants.
- Close off any communal amenities such as swimming pools, gyms, saunas, etc.
Property Maintenance and Sanitation During COVID-19
Sanitation of common areas
Follow the strictest cleaning procedures of public spaces in the rental property. Elevators, staircase railings, doors, and doorbells must be disinfected a few times a day. It is best to make a schedule and sign it on each completion. Increase the volume of cleaning products you order to be well-stocked at all times (but do not hoard).
Elevators are confined spaces, increasing the risk of contracting the disease while inside. Post a notice urging residents to use it only with the people they live with and wait in turns. Also, stop the elevator for scheduled hygiene breaks a few times a day, ventilate it well and disinfect it thoroughly.
Repairs under quarantine
As a property manager, you know better than anyone that rental property maintenance cannot be put on hold. But social distancing rules should be followed to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 among your employees or residents.
You absolutely have to continue fixing issues as they happen. Property maintenance requests are likely to increase because people spend more time at home now and things are bound to break more often. It is a good idea to check on your external contractors to see if they are still open for business in case of an emergency.
If you have to go into a rental unit to do repairs in the bathroom, for example, ask the tenants to stay in another room and sanitize before and after. If you offer cleaning services for individual units, consider suspending it during the quarantine. Of course, tenants should agree to that change as well, but supplying them with cleaning products to do it themselves can help.
Yards have become more important than ever for property maintenance. Putting up a schedule to use a common yard for a condo or a multi-family home is a good idea. Tenants of single-family homes will appreciate the extra space and fresh air beyond the crisis, which will boost resident retention. The rental property owners will be able to increase their rental income afterward. Plus, you might get more real estate investors as property management clients as a result of your ability to keep things under control and retain tenants during this pandemic.
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Put all non-essential repair works on hold
Repainting the lobby can wait. The only upgrades you should do now to the real estate property are those that will give more comfort and safety to your residents during stay-at-home orders. These can be:
- window guards for children and pets;
- installing room dividers to separate spaces for kids and parents working from home;
- installing washers and dryers in units to minimize the need to go out to do laundry.
- Installation of internet service if there was not one. To minimize the number of people coming and going in the building, changes between providers are not advisable if not absolutely necessary.
Property management of unit turnover
Most states allow house move-ins and move-outs if the agreement took place before the coronavirus crisis. But since most people need to shelter in place, they might be stuck so try to work out a solution with them and delay the move.
If your property management clients decide to continue showing vacant units to prospective tenants, you should follow all social distancing rules. Do showings by appointment only, with two people who live together at most, and 1 representative on your side. If possible, let them see the unit on their own or host a virtual open house. There should not be any showings of occupied rental units.
Taking Care of Tenants
Being a property manager in the time of COVID-19 means you are also a caretaker of sorts, the person who looks out for collective wellbeing. It falls on you to act if a resident tests positive for the disease and prevent an outbreak in the rental property. You can take extra safety measures like more disinfection and arranging deliveries for the sick tenant’s household so they don’t have to go outside. Keep in mind you are not allowed to disclose personal or medical information.
If you want, you can go the extra mile for your tenants who live alone or are in a risk group. Make sure you have an emergency contact to call and get them groceries. Isolation can be very hard on people living alone so calling in regularly can help a lot. Consider distributing flyers asking if tenants need help because they might not come to you on their own.
Property maintenance under quarantine looks more like parenting – as a property manager you are responsible for people’s health and their lives continuing as normally as possible. With good planning, it is not impossible to keep both rental property owners happy and the tenants – safe.
Keep reading our blog for more coronavirus real estate trends.