Moving during COVID can be a stressful experience. For many of us, our homes have become our safe places — somewhere we can relax without wearing a mask or constantly worrying about when and where you’ll be able to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer next.
However, many landlords and property managers are stepping up to the challenge, finding ways to help new and longtime residents feel secure in their homes. If you’re apartment hunting right now, or you’re looking out for what to expect from your rental during these uncertain times, check out this list.
Here’s what you should expect from your rental during COVID and in a post-COVID world.
Complex-wide sanitizing stations
Sanitation stations have popped up just about everywhere — from the entrance of the grocery store to the line for the bank teller and everywhere in between. The same should go for apartment complexes, especially those with shared facilities. Here are just a few places where you should expect sanitizing stations:
- Shared or complex-wide laundry rooms
- Common areas like lounges and sitting areas
- Pools, jacuzzis, and changing rooms
- Gym and exercise facilities
- Main leasing office
Essentially, anywhere that you might regularly come into contact with other renters or property management staff should include sanitizing options. Sanitizing stations should include hand sanitizing gel or disinfectant wipes. If the station is in an area that includes objects used by many people — like a gym — wipes should definitely be available to clean the facilities between uses.
Another sanitation option that some complexes are including is a box of free masks available to hand out to visitors to the complex. Some people forget to bring a mask when visiting to see an apartment, or when making a delivery to a resident. A high-quality rental facility will include masks for visitors as a precaution.
Clear guidelines in common areas
In addition to providing the means for residents and visitors to sanitize and protect themselves, it’s important for complexes to provide clear guidelines for people using common areas. Here is an example of guidelines to look for when considering a rental:
- Residents of different households must maintain at least 6 feet of distance from each other and from property management staff whenever they are in common areas together.
- Masks must be worn at all times when in common areas with other residents.
- Gatherings in common areas must be restricted in size to fewer than 10 people.
- All employees must wash their hands regularly, especially any who handle, prepare, or maintain publicly used facilities.
- Delivery personnel must wear masks at all times when making deliveries to any residents in the rental community.
- Sanitizing stations must be placed visibly, and all residents, visitors, and staff must use stations before proceeding to handle any public facilities.
- All public facilities should be regularly cleaned and disinfected by rental property management staff.
- If possible, temperature checks should be required when staff arrive for work, especially those who come in contact with other staff and residents often.
High-quality rental properties should also include terms in leases that require residents to agree to abide by guidelines that keep other residents safe. Just as many rental properties have requirements that residents must not make loud noises or play loud music past a certain time, or that they must keep dogs on leashes, many rentals will soon include requirements that residents strictly adhere to COVID safety guidelines.
If you are interested in a given apartment complex, but are uncertain about what procedures they have in place to keep residents safe from COVID, be sure that you email or call the leasing office to inquire about specifics. Let them know that you are interested in renting, but you’re unsure whether you feel comfortable without first knowing what steps they are taking to ensure the safety of residents and staff who live or work on the premises.
Lenient missed rent payment policy
Another key amenity to look for when seeking out a rental during the COVID-19 pandemic is a lenient policy on missed rent. Many landlords and property management groups can be particularly harsh when it comes to lease violations, and they can be even more especially harsh when it comes to lease violations that involve missed payments.
However, the fact of the matter is that, during the pandemic, millions and millions of Americans have lost their jobs. The government has not provided further assistance after the enhanced unemployment benefits expired months ago, and many people who remain out of work may find it hard to make their rent payments on time — or even at all.
Given that we don’t know whether COVID will get worse again in the near future, and the economy along with it, it’s prudent to look for a rental property that is lenient when it comes to missed rent payments. Many Americans are just one layoff away from being unable to pay their bills, so finding a place that understands if you’re still looking for work is critical.
Be sure to call the leasing office of any complex you may be interested in renting in; though their lease agreement might not explicitly state that they are willing to be lenient on missed rent payments, talking to an actual member of the staff may get you better results.
Key points to remember
Whether it’s Uptown Dallas or New York, as your search for the right COVID apartment continues, remember to keep key points in mind that will help you select only a rental property that has your best interests in mind when designing their facilities and policies:
- Ensure that the complex provides ample sanitizing stations, stocked with hand sanitizer gel and disinfectant wipes, especially in public or shared areas.
- Find out ahead of time what their COVID safety guidelines are, and whether they require all residents to abide by them when they sign their lease agreement. Cross-reference their guidelines with those provided by the CDC to ensure they are accurate and up to date.
- Find out whether the property managers understand the difficulty of the COVID-19 economic downturn, and whether they have relaxed their late or missed payment policy to reflect the economic reality that their residents face.
It may take time, but remember that your health is important. By prioritizing COVID safety in your apartment search, you can help to ensure you ride out the pandemic safely.