Property managers and landlords might be wondering what their responsibilities are when it comes to maintenance during COVID-19.
You should communicate with your tenants how you are preventing the spread of COVID-19 at your properties and share best practices for maintaining a safe and healthy environment.
Your tenants will be looking to you for information on how to submit maintenance requests, how common areas are being managed and cleaned, how to pay rent, and other important property information.
Be proactive with your outreach and COVID-19 outbreak prevention and management.
Consider these actions for your property and tenants:
- Post your updated cleaning policies in common areas.
- Provide up-to-date contact information and inform tenants where they can find the most up-to-date information. (Social media is a great tool for this.)
- Follow CDC cleaning recommendations and social distancing guidelines.
- Make sure your property is taking steps to follow your local Stay at Home or Shelter in Place orders.
- Routinely clean surfaces, especially high-touch areas.
- Consider increasing your janitorial or cleaning schedule.
- Offer hand sanitizer and additional cleaning supplies, if available, especially at multifamily properties.
Resources for Landlords and Property Managers
- Top Real Estate COVID-19 Resources: Updated for Landlords and Property Managers
- The Ultimate State Guide to Coronavirus Information
Property Maintenance During COVID-19
Property managers and landlords are tasked with addressing maintenance issues at their properties, to protect the property, prevent damage, and keep tenants safe. You must follow your state and local laws in regards to habitability at your properties.
In light of social distancing requirements, however, you might need to change how you prioritize maintenance requests and how your vendors handle entering tenants’ homes.
Look to your state and local laws about required property maintenance and how to maintain the implied warranty of habitability at your properties.
Consider the following when updating your maintenance policies during COVID-19:
- Online maintenance requests
- Prioritize maintenance requests
- Essential vs non-essential repairs
- Social distancing during repairs
Online Maintenance Requests
The easiest way to safely collect and review maintenance requests is by offering your tenants a way to submit maintenance requests online. Online maintenance requests give your renters an easy way to communicate maintenance issues by submitting a request and uploading a photo of the problem area.
With an online maintenance request system in place, you can evaluate maintenance issues and determine how they will be handled, without needing to first see the issue in person. You can review requests, assign requests to vendors, and track the request while keeping your tenant informed of its progress.
Prioritize Maintenance Requests
Try to prioritize your maintenance requests and address emergency maintenance right away. Follow your state and local laws about what essential services need to be fixed right away. This often includes safe access to water, heat, and plumbing.
Work with your tenants to determine what maintenance needs to be addressed right away and how it can be safely handled to keep your residents and maintenance personnel safe.
You will also want to keep the safety of the property mind; for example, a leak that could create unsafe and expensive damage.
Social Distancing During Repairs
Create a maintenance plan for your team to safely enter your tenants’ homes to perform necessary repairs. You should communicate this plan to your residents and your maintenance team.
Consider the following precautionary measures:
- Ask tenants to keep the required distance, per CDC guidelines, from any personnel while entering the home.
- Have your maintenance team keep the same required distance from any tenants
- If possible, ask if tenants would be willing to stay in another room while repair work is being completed.
- Provide protective gear for your maintenance team, including:
- Face covering or protective mask
- Booties to cover shoes
- Consider asking anyone who enters your tenants’ homes to take off shoes before entering the property, if the work or job allows them to do so safely.
Additional Safety Measures for Property Managers and Landlords
- Review CDC guidelines and OSHA requirements to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for you and your team.
- Check-in with your insurance company to see if there are extra precautions or actions they are recommending at this time.
- Speak with your attorney for further guidance on what is considered essential maintenance and how best to provide services to your renters in light of any Stay at Home or Shelter in Place orders. You need to understand your requirements as a housing provider to provide a safe and habitable home for your renters while also preventing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping your residents safe.
During these challenging times, it is crucial to ensure that you have a plan in place before a major repair needs to be addressed. Proper planning and a full understanding of CDC recommendations, combined with excellent communication, will allow you to care for your property and your tenants while maintaining a safe and healthy environment for everyone involved.