If you’ve been paying attention to the news or social media, it seems hard to escape news about the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Since COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, spread largely by people coming into close contact with one another (within 6 feet), apartment buildings and multifamily dwellings are at higher risk, with an increased risk of an infected tenant unintentionally spreading the virus to neighbors and other residents. This phenomenon is known as community spread.

As a building owner or a property manager, what can you do to help keep your residents safe? Here’s a quick look at what you need to know about being prepared, effective communication, and tenant safety during these uncertain times. More and more tenants are beginning to expect the precautions to be put into place — so think of it as the latest and greatest in tenant amenities.

How Building Owners and Landlords Can Effectively Prepare for a Crisis

The most important thing that you can do is to begin preparing for the virus now. In other words, don’t wait until there is an outbreak in your community, or even until you have a resident who is showing symptoms of the virus.

Even if you feel the risk is very low to your tenants, all it takes is one person to think they may be sick and mention it on social media — suddenly your entire community and business operations have been thrown into chaos. Keep in mind, however, that while it’s critical to be informed and prepared, you should always avoid panicking or acting out of fear — nothing creates anxiety among your tenants faster.

Ways to Keep Your Tenants Safe

It’s no secret that education is the best defense against COVID-19, and you can play a huge role in helping your tenants understand healthy best practices, such as proper hand hygiene. While you can’t control what goes on in each of your individual tenants’ units, you can be proactive and have some control over what goes on in common areas.

Make sure that you are providing antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer in common areas such as the fitness center, lobby, and the game room.

Also, now is a good time to order extra gloves and cleaning supplies, and instruct your staff on how to properly wipe down and sanitize common areas, such as stairwells, elevators, hallways, light switches, door handles, mailboxes, and more.

CDC Recommendations to Provide Tenants About COVID-19 Safety

Wondering how you can guide your tenants about staying safe during the pandemic? The CDC has provided the following recommendations to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The following guidelines can be shared with your tenants:

  • Wash your hands well and often, with soap and water (for 20 seconds or more) — especially after touching surfaces that are frequently touched by others. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill germs. Look for one that contains 60 to 95 percent alcohol.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeved elbow when coughing and/or sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, and mouth) with unwashed hands.
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched objects and surfaces (door handles, light switches, etc).
  • If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, be sure to seek medical care as soon as possible. But don’t just show up at your doctor’s office or the emergency room. Make sure to call ahead and explain your symptoms, and avoid all contact with others until you are seen.