13 Tips to Keep Residents Safe During COVID-19
March 25, 2020
The novel coronavirus – now known as COVID-19 – has led to a global health crisis and pandemic. Americans have been told to remain in isolation in their homes to avoid spreading the disease – with many states and cities enforcing a mandatory lockdown.
If you’re a property manager, landlord, or residential building staff, you now have the responsibility of keeping residents safe, calm, and comfortable as building tenants stay in their homes more than ever before.
13 Tips to Keep Your Apartment Building Residents Safe During Coronavirus
- Set Social Distancing Rules
- Disinfect and Clean Regularly
- Setup Hand Sanitizer Stations
- Offer Free On-Demand Food Delivery
- Close Your Building’s Gym and Gathering Spaces
- Provide Tenants Updated Information and Resources
- Consider Rent and Utility Freezes
- Host Virtual Happy Hours
- Increase Internet Speeds
- Ask Residents to Limit Guests
- Keep Your Building’s Staff Healthy
- Listen to the Experts
- Lead by Example and Stay Positive
With the heightened responsibility of managing a community of residents who now spend near all of their time at home, here are thirteen actionable things you can do today to provide a healthy, safe, and comfortable living environment for the people living in your building.
Download our free COVID-19 tenant letter to keep your residents safe & updated.
How to Keep Residential Building Tenants Safe During COVID-19
1. Set Social Distancing Rules
Social distancing is the act of avoiding social situtations that pack groups of people together and keeping enough physical space between individuals to avoid spreading illness. The CDC’s official recommendation is keeping at least 6 feet between people.
The goal of social distancing is to slow the spread of COVID-19 to flatten the infection-rate curve and avoid overwhelming hospitals.
As landlords and building managers, it’s your responsibility to set social distancing rules. Consider the areas of your building where people might be within 6 feet of one another and determine if any steps can be taken to minimize it. An example is setting rules against more than 2 people riding an elevator together.
Even if you can’t enforce these rules, setting them helps provide guidance to your residents and keeps social distancing top of mind, as well as sets a precedent for other multifamily communities to follow.
2. Disinfect and Clean Regularly
It recently was announced that COVID-19 was found on surfaces of the Princess Cruise 17 days after passengers had left and can live on different surface types for different periods of time.
This complicates an already difficult problem, as the coronavirus is a highly contagious disease that has a transmission rate of 2-3. By comparison, the flu has a transmission rate of 1.3.
To keep your residents safe, increase cleaning schedules across all parts of your building, especially areas of your complex that experience the most traffic. Focus on the surfaces that COVID-19 can survive on the longest such as plastic and stainless steel surfaces, and remember to provide your staff with best practices for disinfecting areas.
3. Setup Hand Sanitizer Stations
A quick actionable thing property managers can do today is setting up hand sanitizer stations across your building’s most frequented areas. This provides residents with added protection for disinfection and slowing down the spread of the virus in your building’s community. It can also show residents that you are taking every precaution and are taking the virus seriously.
Apartment buildings can find hand sanitizer stations in-store at office supply stores or online at e-commerce stores for restaurants such as WebstaurantStore.com.
4. Offer Free On-Demand Food Delivery
Only 27% of Americans cook every day, meaning many of your residents were relying on eating at restaurants, take-out, and delivery for many of their meals.
Now, many cities have completely shut down dine-in restaurants, allowing only for curbside pickup and delivery. However curbside pickup requires residents to venture outside their apartments and delivery expenses add up quickly.
Additionally, American grocery stores are crowded and anxious places that are one of the few public spaces that have remained open. This provides a dangerous opportunity for the coronavirus to spread among groups of people quickly.
Multifamily apartment complexes such as high-rises and condominiums can help their residents by partnering with an on-demand food delivery service that acts as a virtual room service.
Services such as 2ndKitchen for Residental Buildings provide property managers with the ability to create a custom food menu of rotating daily specials, which residents can order from their smartphones and have delivered directly to their rooms. All at no cost for apartment buildings and with no delivery fees for tenants.
"Given the current environment, this new service is helping us keep the small farms we work with operating, our team employed and continue bringing our community a healthy food option.”
5. Close Your Building’s Gym and Gathering Spaces
If your building has amenities where people congregate – such as a gym, playground, or other non-essential common areas – consider temporarily closing them down.
While building residents may show their frustration that they no longer have access to the building gym, it will help encourage social distancing and removes the potential to spread infection throughout your building’s community.
6. Provide Updated Information and Resources
Between the CDC, WHO, and other health organizations, there is an abundance of public health information and resources on COVID-19. Have a staff member dedicated to putting together the most important and crucial information and curating a daily or weekly list of resources for your residents.
You can then circulate that information through your building’s community management platform, website, social media, email newsletter, and digital signage.
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7. Consider Rent and Utility Freezes
The economy has ground to a halt with entire industries shutting down – meaning unforeseen layoffs and unemployment. And as companies go into survival mode, it is near impossible to find a new role in the current environment.
Then when you consider that 78% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, it quickly becomes apparent that rent and utilities will soon become an immediate problem for many Americans. For property managers and landlords, it presents a problem of not being able to collect rent and maintain their revenue streams.
However, property groups that have flexibility should look at how they can provide financial relief for their residents, from rent freezes and free or discounted utilities. Research government small-business relief and stimulus packages, as there are grants, loans, and tax incentives to businesses that are more impacted by COVID-19.
8. Host Virtual Happy Hours
As you close down amenities in your building, residents are forced to stay in their homes, and as more time passes, people will begin to grow impatient with their situation and crave more social interaction.
One thing you can do is host virtual happy hour events with the residents of your building. Create a party group on one of the popular web conference tools such as Zoom, Skype, or Facebook that provides a space for your community to safely interact and socialize with one another.
9. Increase Internet Speeds
Between a huge increase in remote work and residents spending their free time streaming TV and movies, playing online video games, and using web conferencing tools for social interaction, your building’s internet usage is at an all-time high.
Nothing is worse than technical difficulties impacting your work productivity or slow internet speeds causing buffering and lag.
If your building offers complimentary internet service, consider increasing internet speeds. It will be an act of goodwill your residents will love and will help to minimize disruptions to their already disrupted lives.
10. Ask Residents to Limit Guests
Property managers know that they can’t legally restrict guests from having guests and visitors. However, that doesn’t mean you can ask. Send your residents a note asking them to listen to the medical advice from experts to practice social distancing. Encourage tenants to refrain from inviting over non-essential guests for the safety of the building’s entire community.
11. Keep Your Building’s Staff Healthy
In order to maintain a functionally operational building, you need healthy employees. Make sure you are providing your staff with proper equipment to keep them healthy, such as masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, and more.
Have daily staff meetings to gauge morale and encourage employees that are not feeling well to be extra cautious and stay home. Property managers can support that message by offering additional paid time and monitoring their employees’ overall health.
12. Listen to the Experts
Take advice from medical experts and act accordingly. If things get worse, it may be time to take more hardline actions to protect your residents. If there are new things people should be doing to slow the spread of the virus, communicate that to your staff and residents. There are trained professionals who have spent their entire lives becoming experts in infectious diseases for times just like these, so leverage those people.
13. Lead by Example and Stay Positive!
Every building needs a strong leader who has their residents’ best interests as their number one priority. Stay strong and make informed decisions before it’s too late.
And finally, remember that we are all in this together. While we don’t have a clear timeframe on when things will return to normal, we must stay positive. Take it one day at a time and encourage your residents to do the same.
Keeping Your Building Safe During COVID-19
While it’s a scary time for those living and working in high-density residential apartment complexes, the coronavirus also presents an opportunity for multifamily buildings to show how valuable a competent building staff can be.
Residents will remember the steps taken – or not taken – by buildings to keep them safe during COVID-19 when it’s time to re-evaluate their living situation. Those property groups who handle this situation well will develop strong relationships with tenants and create brand advocates that have renewal rates, keeping units occupied and helping to attract new residents with online reviews, referrals, and word-of-mouth marketing.
At the end of the day, the last thing you want is an outbreak in your building’s community. Be smart, safe, and take action quickly to avoid disaster.
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