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When Covid 19 Strikes

When Staff or Tenants Test Positive

A range of legal and business challenges are being faced by small business landlords, who may lack time and resources to respond appropriately to emergencies and dangers. From legal to disease threats, it’s best for landlords or property managers to develop a plan.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people are required to stay at home unless they provide essential services. Landlord and property management work are essential services.

And maintaining regular janitorial and maintenance services at the property is key to residents. However, it is arguable about whether leasing and administrative staff should work in the management office.

As an example, if the management team consists of more than one employee, it might be better if property management staff  rotated to work in office along with practicing social distancing when two or more staff are working in office simultaneously.

Follow CDC Guidelines to Reorganize Workspaces

For instance, you may move furniture around to assure each workstation is at least 6 feet apart. It’s also important to establish additional measures in the office such as providing hand sanitizer for staff to use, requiring staff to wash hands with soap before using any office equipment, including computer, printer, telephone.

Most importantly, if staff experiences any symptoms of respiratory illness such as cough, fever, or shortness of breath, they should not report to work. Instead, they should contact their health care provider and inform Human Resources.

Meanwhile, it is wise to develop and enforce a preventive cleaning protocol for janitorial and maintenance workers to follow and address operational challenges in this unusual time.

Providing janitorial and maintenance staff with the appropriate disinfection tools and personal protective equipment such as a mask (PPE or other face coverings) and gloves to wear when they enter resident’s unit and work in common areas at the property. One additional tool that really helps the cause is Covid 19 Testing Kits, which you can buy at pharmacies or online.

Contractors too should practice the safety protocols you set.

Please be mindful that wearing a facemask or other face covering in public is recommended by The CDC but a voluntary preventive measure. This means you, your staff or contractor can be in heightened risk for contracting Covid 19.

Property owners can turn this pandemic crisis into an opportunity of building trust with your property management staff. You can enhance their morale by giving them appreciation pay and offering free lunch when they work at site.

Shout out to staff on the frontlines via email or newsletter is another great way to recognize the value of your team.

What if Residents Test Positive for COVID-19?

While you are transparent to your residents, you should be mindful that health care privacy and confidentiality laws prevent you from disclosing any information about the resident. Some precaution steps could be considered taking in order to protect your residents and employees.

Residents who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 are under quarantine inside their units until they are symptom free for 72 hours. Assure residents communicate closely with their health provider and with the County Department of Public Health.

All residents of the property are instructed to shelter-in-place within their units. Visitors are restricted from all properties including family members, except authorized in-home care providers may enter the building.

Property management staff continue to contact all residents to support their needs for food assistance, health services, etc.

What To Do if unable to pay my Mortgage Since my Residents are Unable to Pay Rent?

First, contact your lender to discuss your situation and any forbearance options. The CARES act allows borrowers who are impacted by coronavirus to postpone their federally backed mortgage payments up to 12 months.

In some States such as California, major banks like Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citibank, and JP Morgan Chase agree to a 90-day mortgage payment forbearance for property owners who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has forced landlords into some troubling financial situations. It’s best to get educated about your responsibilities as well as your landlord rights.


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