COVID-19 has become a global phenomenon, with over a third of the world’s population now living under lockdown. It has changed the lives of many people in ways they could never have imagined.
Offices and buildings have been closed as people have transitioned to working from home when possible, and production has stalled when remote work isn’t possible. Additionally, consumers around the world have become more tight-fisted, preferring to only spend on essentials due to the general economic uncertainty.
This has affected the profitability and productivity of every industry, with one of the most affected sectors being housing.
How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected the Real Estate Sector
There’s no question that the real estate industry has also taken a substantial blow. People who were planning to sell or buy a home are now unsure of where they stand. Despite the recent federal government enacting new rules, it’s still hard to know what to expect. In most states, real estate agents have been encouraged to conduct their business from home, which has led to an increase in virtual showings, photos, and digital signing.
In some states, tenants who are unable to pay their rent cannot be evicted. However, this doesn’t mean that their rent has been waived by the government. Instead, they have to work out a plan with their property managers on how to pay their rent. As a result, 22% of property managers have relaxed their delinquency policies.
Among the most affected people in the real estate sector are property managers. This is mainly because a typical lease agreement doesn’t include how they should address viral pandemics. Because the health and safety of tenants and clients are the top priorities for property managers, they have responded by taking actions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Actions Property Managers are Taking
Developing Detailed Plans
Property managers across the country are developing actionable response plans to enact at their buildings. These plans include how they can identify when health emergencies affect their properties, best practices on how to sanitize, and an overview of the available resources.
To be able to move and act decisively during a pandemic, property managers have limited the number of decision-makers. Therefore, they have resulted in designating tasks to individuals from each discipline, including property management, communication, and risk management. This plan has helped make the decision-making process more efficient.
To prevent uncertainties brought along by the lack of information and understanding, property managers are now providing their clients with updates and giving their employees templates to use in order to enhance communication with their tenants. This is important to avoid the spread of false information that can cause anxieties.
Property managers are using these communications to educate their employees on how they can identify symptoms quickly, inform their clients on the latest updates as provided by the authorities, and advise tenants on the precautions they should take, while also reminding their staff about best practices.
In many cases, it’s often up to property managers to make disclosures and alert other tenants in case of an infection in their buildings. While clear communication about safety conditions and potential hazards is essential, it’s important to note that under the Disabilities Act, disclosure of an infected individual’s identity is prohibited. While management may choose to disclose that there is a positive case in a building, they may not reveal that person’s identity.
Reinforcing Proper Cleaning and Hygiene Practices
Maintaining cleanliness is a major part of managing any property. However, during a health crisis, property managers have to reinforce cleaning and hygiene policies and inform residents on how to supplement what is being done.
This includes reinforcing the importance of keeping surfaces clean and frequently sanitizing shared surfaces like doors, elevator buttons, lobby desks, and light switches, and if possible, providing tenants with alcohol-based sanitizers and the appropriate cleaning wipes in communal areas.
Property managers know that knowledge is an important tool in the fight against COVID-19. By staying up to date on changing circumstances, including new health safety information, the state of local infections and risk, local regulations regarding evictions and rent payments, and laws concerning tenant rights, a property management company can be invaluable in aiding with health, safety, and legal matters that are in constant upheaval during this crisis.