In this time of crisis, it is important for all property managers to act quickly in efforts to keep employees and tenants safe.
The health and safety of employees, tenants, contractors, and clients must be the top priority for property managers during a health crisis like COVID-19. It is critical to protect those around your properties and to take every single step in your power to reduce the risk for all.
What You’ll Find in this Guide
- State of the Industry
- Key Findings
- Amenity Closure Statements
- Virtual Tour Statements
- Business Operation Statements
- Guidance Review
- Important Resources
State of the Industry
Fitness centers are shutting down, along with lounges, workspaces, common outdoor areas and other sleek and sought-after amenities in apartment complexes across the country.
Doormen, who are still at work, are halting delivery drivers — from Amazon to DoorDash to any service in between — to request hand sanitization before entering; or in some cases, asking visitors to leave all packages outside of the building.
Residents are turning a shoulder to friends and building mates, while property managers work to mitigate the risks for workers making in-unit maintenance calls, future tenants seeking tours, delivery personnel and essential staff.
Welcome to life as an apartment-dweller or property manager in the age of coronavirus.
Major employers including Facebook, Google, Airbnb, Bank of America, and other massive operations are telling their employees to work from home. So, naturally, buildings are seeing a larger demand for amenities and common areas.
During this time of crisis, property managers must do their part to limit the spread of this deadly virus, while protecting all parties involved in day-to-day operations, and continuing to run a successful management business.
At ABODO, our goal is to support renters searching for apartments and property managers eager to protect their tenants and employees by providing useful, credible information with regard to handling coronavirus.
With that in mind, we set out to speak with property management professionals across the nation to uncover how they are handling relevant issues, including leasing goals, virtual tours, corporate and vendor meetings, amenity sanitization, common area closures and more.
Below you’ll find information on how your fellow property managers are working to solve these issues, along with authoritative resources to help you navigate these trying times.
Key Takeaways from Property Managers
To begin, it’s important to note that while many property management companies are alike in a variety of ways, each operation is run differently. Of note, all management companies have varying degrees of resources available to them and not every plan of attack will be the same.
That said, understanding how others are working to mitigate the risk of coronavirus is a very important place to start. We know time is extremely sensitive, so we’ve listed the key takeaways from our conversations below.
- Common areas and amenities will close, including fitness and business centers to mitigate the risk of community spread
- On-site, in-person tours are canceled indefinitely, but virtual tours will be made available in many formats (Facetime, Facebook Live, Skype, 3D Matterport, and others).
- All leasing offices are closed to the public indefinitely and staff members have been instructed to work from home until further notice.
- Vendor meetings have been postponed until further notice, but phone calls and virtual meetings are currently being accepted.
- Only emergency maintenance requests will be responded to for the foreseeable future in order to protect the safety of workers, contractors and tenants alike.
- Cloud-based and remotely accessible tools have been put in place to ensure continuity of service across multiple platforms, including communication with tenants, essential staff an on-site management teams.
- Daily communication to tenants and staff has been put in place via email to ensure status updates are made available to anyone working, or living, in the building.
What They’re Saying
Amenities are closing in apartment complexes across the country. This is an important part of mitigating the spread of coronavirus. Here is what property managers are saying about this issue.
“We will close fitness facilities, business centers and other shared amenities and provide only limited maintenance, according to an email sent to residents Monday. The company said it will respond to emergency maintenance requests. It also asked residents to notify their management offices if they are quarantined so that the complex can take steps to protect residents and workers.”
— A Dallas-based property management company
“The health and safety of all our residents is paramount. Because of this and also to comply with requirements that gatherings of 10 or more people should not be in a room together, we have made the difficult decision to close all common area amenities.”
— A Madison-based property management company
“In an effort to combat the coronavirus, we’ve decided to close community amenity at all of our properties, including business centers, community business rooms, main offices, and sales offices. We encourage everyone to stay home, if possible. We will increase signage about extra cleaning measures and encouragement of residents to follow all CDC guidelines.”
— A Minneapolis-based property management company
While coronavirus has led to a pause of business operations for companies across the country, renters are still in search of new apartments and leasing is something that cannot stop altogether. Management companies are now offering more virtual tour options than ever before to help renters continue their search. Here is what property managers are saying about this issue.
“In an effort to reduce the risk posed by COVID-19, we ask that all tours are done in a virtual manner for the foreseeable future. All in-person tours are officially canceled indefinitely. We are making an extra effort to provide video tours of all units available.”
— A Chicago-based property management company
“We are working to show the property to the best of our ability with photos and videos. If a potential renter is not getting the information they need, we are setting up FaceTime tours at their convenience. At this time, we are not allowing any in-person, face-to-face tours.”
— A Minneapolis-based property management company
“At this point, we are not offering any in-person tours. We have also paused all leasing until the end of this month. Virtual tours are widely available and we are working to increase our capacity to offer virtual tours on as many platforms as possible, including Skype, Facetime, Zoom and others.”
— A San Francisco-based property management company
Vendor Meetings & Business Operations
While coronavirus is causing a pause for many business operations, property management companies need to continue to maintain buildings and conduct vendor meetings in the hope of avoiding supply chain disruptions. Here is how property management companies are handling vendor meetings.
“We are hosting meetings with vendors via conference calls or video conferencing. We have increased our capabilities to meet via video with vendors and suppliers in order to keep our business operations flowing smoothly during this time. We are investing in additional resources to keep operations as normal as possible during these trying times.”
— A San Francisco-based property management company
“Today, we are taking additional steps to make sure our employees are safe as well as our clients and vendors. Starting today, we are temporarily closing our corporate office and advised our employees to work from home and our vendor to conduct business meetings with our staff via video conferencing platforms or telephone until further notice”
— A New Jersey-based property management company
“In an effort to reduce the risks posed by the COVID-19, we ask that you direct all of your sales teams not to make onsite calls to any of our properties or locations including our corporate offices for the next 30-days. We ask that all communication is through either e-mail, video conferencing or telephone calls only.”
— A Nashville-based property management company
During these trying times, property management professionals should strive to be as well-versed as possible about communication practices, information gathering, risk assessments, implementation of response plans and business continuity plans which address public health incidents and pandemics.
If you’re just starting to compile your response plan, you might consider the following:
- Staying up-to-date on guidance from local, state and federal health officials, as guidance may change daily.
- Understanding the best ways to respond to tenants and staff, as new questions may arise daily on operations and business functions.
- Developing response templates to address health concerns, sanitization, closures, and other issues, while increases circulation of the aforementioned plans with key staff and tenant contacts.
- Implementing systems and processes to ensure that tenants and staff are notified immediately if a tenant or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19 and to provide appropriate notice to others affiliated with the property.
For more information, please visit the resources below:
- COVID-19 Situation Summary (via CDC)
- Prevention and Treatment (via CDC)
- Tenant and Staff Communication Resource (via CDC)
- Immediate Steps for Businesses During COVID-19 (via U.S. Chamber)
- Disinfection Guidance for Residential Buildings (via NYC.gov)
- How to Continue Operating Your Apartment Community (via Sprout Marketing)
- National Apartment Association Guidance (via Forbes)
- NAA Coronavirus Webinar Recording (via IREM)
- Action for Property Managers (via GlobeSt)
- National Multifamily Housing Council Listserve Sign Up (via NMHC)
- NMHC & Pinnacle Webinar on COVID-19 (via Connect Media)
- NMHC Incident Response Plan for COVID-19 (Via NMHC)
- Important Actions Property Managers Can Take (via ABODO)
For more information, please contact ABODO here: firstname.lastname@example.org