A good portion of the job description of a property manager is the protection of the health and safety of tenants, employees, and by extension, vendors. While there are still many unknowns about the coronavirus pandemic, property management teams can take proactive steps.
When you’re an owner or landlord who isn’t able to be present on-site, a property manager is crucial during the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what your team should be doing in order to keep your investment safe and its tenants healthy.
Jump Into Action
There should be a plan in place ASAP. It needs to be actionable and specific, and include information about health emergency response protocol and available resources. Provide your team with pre-determined copy to use in communication and on signage — be specific. This is also a time to limit the number of decision-makers. Form a tight group that includes key players and assign tasks based on their expertise and skill. Decision-making should be quick and streamlined with a clear chain of command.
Because this type of crisis will increase staff absenteeism, have your property management team clarify a sick leave policy and amend it if necessary. Set up channels for employees to work remotely and discuss the idea of staggered shifts to support social distancing. Prepare for the outcome of this pandemic, too — now’s the time to check over insurance policies, prepare for HR issues as schedules start to return to “normal”, and getting documentation together to apply for government aid if necessary.
Don’t Overlook Communication
The only thing we know for sure about COVID-19 is that there is so much we don’t know yet. Give employees templates with communication that’s consistent and accurate in order to give tenants peace of mind during uncertain times. This content should be educational and informative, outlining best practices and precautions. It should also clearly list contact information so tenants can quickly reach the proper key person in the event of an emergency.
External communication is also something that shouldn’t be overlooked. If there’s a case of coronavirus reported at your property, it’s strongly suggested that property managers contact the local health department, which will give guidelines on how to proceed while keeping the community safe and healthy. Advise maintenance staff to avoid these units and monitor the situation closely.
Encourage Improved Hygiene & Cleaning Strategies
It’s crucial at any time for property managers to have a solid cleaning policy in place, but public health crises present a bigger challenge. Along with cleaning common spaces far more thoroughly and using infection control strategies, some amenities (like fitness centers) may need to be closed altogether. Post signage in these areas to remind people of best practices.
Service or maintenance technicians also need an updated policy for interacting with tenants and entering their living space. Decide which service calls would be considered routine and which would be emergencies and prioritize accordingly. Defer any maintenance around the community; bringing in outside vendors and contractors could put your staff and tenants at risk.
You’re likely not yet an expert on coronavirus, which means you should develop a process of staying informed. Have your property management team create a list of sources to check daily (like the CDC website) and designate a key player on your team to compile a list of short updates on the situation. Choose which news needs to be communicated to staff and tenants, and distribute those communications promptly. Here’s a short list of important sites to add to your bookmarks folder:
There’s no doubt that property managers are on the frontlines when it comes to keeping tenants and staff safe and healthy. Making decisions quickly requires a clear head and a clearly outlined plan of action, which will be a universal tool for everyone to reference even during a disaster.
When you choose a property management partner that will take the steps to protect your investment, you can eliminate some of the stress that all of us (including landlords and owners) are feeling right now, and put some uncertainty to rest. LEX Group doesn’t farm out property management to third parties — when we work together, you will always be ahead of the curve and informed about the impact of COVID-19.