Apartment Owners: 8 Ways to Keep Your Building Safe During Coronavirus
The global outbreak of Coronavirus is an unprecedented phenomenon that’s left many of us feeling helpless.
As an apartment building owner, you may feel worried about how the illness will affect the health of your tenants and the impact it will have on your building. Fortunately, there are many simple steps you can take to help keep your building safe and minimize your risk during this time. Many of these apartment building safety precautions are good practice, even when we’re not facing a pandemic.
We’re living in unfamiliar times. Throughout the United States, we’re concerned about the safety of our families and friends. We’re all trying to be healthier, practice social distancing, and do our part to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
For building and apartment owners, another layer of stress is added to the fray. How do you ensure your building is kept safe and sanitized? How do you ensure that while tenants are sheltering in place and staying home, they aren’t inadvertently spreading the virus throughout your apartment building? What should you do to protect your building and mitigate risk, should one of your tenants fall ill?
It’s essential to take steps to protect your property, reduce your liability, and protect the tenants who reside within your buildings. So, what are some easy steps you can take to ease the minds of everyone in your building (and your own)?
1. Provide Extra Safeguards When Possible
Post signage in your building to remind visitors (and even tenants) to practice safe social distancing during this outbreak. If they are feeling ill, they should be wearing a mask for the protection of their neighbors whenever they enter common areas (like the building’s lobby or elevators). Following your state’s guidelines, many common areas are likely already closed at this time, especially gyms, pools, and rec rooms. Inform residents if you close any amenities for their safety.
Consider adding a hand sanitizer dispenser on the front desk or in the elevator. If you already have one installed, you’re ahead of the game. Hand sanitizer is currently hard to come by, but supplies are expected to increase again in the next few weeks. It’s a good idea to make sure supplies are replenished frequently.
2. Keep Common Areas Clean
Common areas like building bathrooms, elevators, meeting spaces, and entryways should be regularly cleaned. Encourage cleaning staff to use an EPA approved Covid-19 disinfectant to ensure common areas are safe and sanitized.
Cleaning staff should pay particular attention to call buttons, doorknobs, elevator buttons, and other touchpoints. Cleaning and maintenance workers are really the unsung heroes at this time, so be sure to acknowledge and tout their efforts for keeping your building safe.
3. Check Your Building Access
Depending on your policies, type of building, and security and safety systems, you may or may not offer open-access to your building’s shared spaces. If you have a security system, now is the time to check access cards and make sure that everyone who needs to enter can get in safely and keep out those who don’t.
Remind tenants to report lost or stolen keys. While it may not be the most convenient time to install and uninstall locks on the doors, it doesn’t hurt to offer a gentle reminder that your tenants should be doing their part to keep the building safe and secure, especially during the Covid-19 outbreak. If you use an electronic security system, now is an excellent time to go through the system and deactivate any lost or unaccounted keycards.
4. Request that Tenants Limit Visitors
Included in your gentle reminder for tenants to limit building access when possible should also be a reminder about the number of visitors they’re hosting at this time. Depending on your building’s policies, now is a good time to reiterate your provisions about group meetings, overnight guests, and long-term visitors.
As a landlord, you may not be in a position to strictly enforce the limit on gatherings over ten people (the recommended number of people gathered in a space during this pandemic), but for the health and safety of your building, you should certainly underscore your policies. Many contracts already limit the number of guests (especially overnight guests) that are allowed in your apartments. Now is the time to give tenants a refresher on this policy
5. Encourage Outside Delivery
Depending on your mail delivery system and set up, you may want to request that packages are left in a designated drop off area to minimize staff handling. Whenever possible, encourage residents to choose minimal contact delivery whether it’s for food, mail, or other supplies.
Remind the cleaning staff to wipe down shared mailboxes and call boxes. These areas are often overlooked but are especially important right now.
6. Encourage Distant Communication
On-site rental offices should be kept closed to minimize social contact. Encourage residents to mail their rent payments or to pay using EFT whenever possible. Should they have a concern, ask them to call the rental office or property management office rather than stopping by in person.
Essential services are still available, including HVAC, plumbing, and of course, hot water heater service. Assure residents that urgent utility issues will still be addressed right away. Less critical issues may need to be addressed after this crisis.
7. Review Guidelines
Now is an important time to revisit your building’s emergency guidelines to ensure they are up to snuff. Review your building’s preparedness and evacuation plans. Familiarize yourself with the guidance available through resources for apartment owners such as the National Apartment Association.
Your legal counsel should of course, also review any contract questions or changes at any time, but especially right now.
8. Have a Plan if Coronavirus Shows Up in Your Building
None of us want to consider the worst-case scenario, but should a tenant test positive for Covid-19, it’s essential to keep yourself and your building safe. If the resident is following protocol, they are likely quarantining at home. Do not enter their unit.
Encourage residents to share information with you about a diagnosis of Covid-19. Review your lease agreements to see if you have a legal obligation to notify tenants in the building of an outbreak. You should also check your state’s legal guidelines (which may have changed due to the current situation).
It’s crucial that you follow legal guidelines and don’t share the name or any personal information (such as the unit number) of the tenant with any other residents. Check with the CDC for guidelines and consult your legal counsel regarding privacy laws. The NAA has created a YouTube video to help you navigate this difficult situation.
It’s always important to focus on the health and safety of your building, but right now, it’s absolutely critical. Protect your residents and yourself by preparing, revisiting your policies, and making sure you’ve taken the necessary precautions to get through this time.
Reliable Water Services is Here for You
Hot water is critical to health, sanitation, and safety in general, but it’s especially vital to the industries we serve—and the majority of those industries are considered essential businesses. As our customers remain operational during these unprecedented times, so does Reliable Water Services.
Making sure our customers have hot water has always been our main priority, and now more than ever we are here for you. We will continue to provide 24/7 water heater services to our customers, ensuring you have the hot water your business relies on. Our office team is practicing social distancing by working remotely, while our service technicians and installing contractors are following extra safety guidelines to ensure they can service your building safely without putting themselves or your staff members at risk.
Our team at RWS has always viewed the relationship with each of our customers as a partnership. Through this partnership, we will work together and get through these unique and challenging times. As always, should you need service contact us 24/7 at 1-800-356-1444. Stay safe and be well!