Property Maintenance and COVID-19 Concerns
September 10, 2020
By: Kevin Gardner
In times of a global pandemic, it is difficult for residential and commercial property owners to know exactly what to do to keep their buildings and landscape safe and healthy. Each property owner should have a plan in place which covers some basics such as landscaping, contracted services and common areas as well as cleaning and repairs, so everyone is on the same page.
For the average homeowner, routine landscaping maintenance such as lawn mowing and gardening will not change much during the various shut-down levels and as long as you wear a mask and keep your distance from neighbors, you can keep your current schedule. Maintenance items such as aeration or commercial property upkeep can be essential and cancelling these things can damage the landscaping as well as potentially putting the provider out of business.
Most contracted services have had to reevaluate how they work to better follow state and federal guidelines for safety and to slow the spread of Covid-19. This can help them stay in business as well as keep your property maintained. It is a good idea to contact each service to see if things need to be rescheduled to allow smaller crews with more protective gear. You may have to sign a new contract saying that you will keep your distance from the crews and inform any tenants of these changes as they come up.
One of the best ways to maintain your home, commercial building or apartment complex is through cleaning the areas frequently with disinfectant. If you hire a cleaning crew, you will want to be more lenient on how many people are required each shift and the time it takes to clean the space. Make sure that your supplies are effective at killing viruses and have both sanitizer and gloves available. Wipe surfaces down with disinfectants after being touched by customers or as they come into your home, but remember that virus killing products can also take a toll on the items being maintained, so weigh the benefits against the costs of having items out or areas open.
You should shut down as many common areas as possible and try to schedule the others for tenants to use. For example, if your apartment complex has a laundry room, you can create an online appointment calendar for it, so your tenants are not trying to crowd in as many people as possible. Open outdoor areas with limited equipment, such as lawns or parking lots, can stay open with guidelines posted, but areas such as gyms or gaming rooms would need to be cleaned after each use and can be difficult to maintain.
Repairs are needed in almost every building at any given time but maintaining safety and health guidelines during repairs can be difficult whether you are a homeowner or a landlord. It is a good idea to switch to online maintenance requests for your buildings if you have not already done so. Most guidelines will suggest that emergency repairs should still be completed, and others put on hold for as long as possible. Your tenants need electricity, HVAC, water and some appliances included in the lease in order to be safe and healthy, and your building needs structural issues to be repaired quickly to avoid further damage, most other repairs can be put on a waiting list for after the virus is under control.
Social distancing during a pandemic can take a toll on routine maintenance tasks and you may not know which ones should be done or avoided to keep the most people safe. Some of your contracted services will be suffering a loss of business and need the maintenance items to continue, and it is important to remember that some maintenance can lead to property damage or devaluation if left unattended. It is a good idea to come up with a plan and provide that information to tenants and contractors, so everyone is on the same page.