These are trying times for all Americans. Confronted with a viral infection ten times more deadly than influenza that has caused the cogs of the world economy to grind into low gear, many of us in the property management professions feel like ships adrift at sea. How do we protect ourselves, our employees, and our renters, and at the same time protect our owners and their investments? Property managers face the unique challenge of supporting those who rely on us while also preparing for the worst. Each company will have to develop emergency
plans that are in line with their unique employment force and property portfolio, but here is some general advice that is in line with CDC guidelines that can be helpful regardless of your specific challenges.
- Determine how you will handle service requests for residents who have tested positive for the virus and are self-quarantined at home.
- Make sure you have appropriate personal protection guidelines and that your vendors and employees understand how to effectively protect themselves from the virus.
- Develop a regimen of cleaning common areas that may have been contaminated on a regular basis several times per day.
- Encourage sick employees to stay at home and develop alternative methods of completing work-related duties, such as telecommuting.
- Reschedule events that require employees to travel or congregate in large groups.
All good advice, but what happens if a self-quarantined tenant faces an emergency that threatens their safety and/or property damage? Think broken water pipe or gas leak. How would you respond without putting your employees in imminent danger? What will happen if you can’t find a vendor to address the problem because they are sick or sheltering in place? Each company will be responsible for finding solutions to these potential issues as part of their COVID-19 plan. There is also a separate concern for property managers that will have a much smaller effect on other types of businesses: what happens if your tenants cannot pay their rent during these trying times because they are self-quarantined or work in one of the many industries struck especially hard by the pandemic? In these situations, it is very important for property managers to be proactive about disseminating the appropriate information concerning rent and utility payment assistance. Here are some things you, and your tenants, need to know:
- U.S. HUD has put a moratorium on evictions for two months starting March 18th .
- Be on the lookout for state and federal rent assistance programs and how they affect your area.
- Understand unemployment insurance guidelines and how they affect both your tenants and employees. The Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines can be found here:
- Know that the SBA (Small Business Administration) is providing Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million in assistance for small businesses affected by the Coronavirus. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome
temporary loss of revenue. Additional information can be found here
https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources and here https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.
As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to Sellstate Alliance Realty & Property Management to have them addressed, and please stay safe during these unprecedented and quickly changing times.