Property Maintenance During COVID-19: Keeping Up & Staying Safe
As a Property Manager, it’s your job to create a safe environment for your residents, on-site team and maintenance staff. The introduction of COVID-19 has made these tasks more difficult, but not impossible. There are ways to protect your residents and team while also keeping your property safe and well-maintained.
Follow this guide for effective property maintenance during COVID-19 to see how these small steps can have a big impact on protecting your residents, community, and properties.
#1) Empower Your Team with the Right Equipment
Make sure all maintenance techs and rental associates within your company have everything they need to do their jobs safely. You can take basic steps to accomplish this, like setting up more hand sanitizer stations and setting up the environment so team members can easily stay six feet away from each other and residents.
Additionally, you can provide personal protective equipment (PPE) recommended by state and federal guidelines. This includes providing gloves and face masks for your employees to wear. However, buying PPE and hand sanitizer is only the first part of equipping your team.
You also need to provide them with training on best practices. There are plenty of people wearing face masks incorrectly – either by not covering their noses or wearing the same mask several days in a row. Similarly, poor protective glove practices can do more harm than good if you’re not following guidelines and changing them frequently. Leading an employee training session or communicating your PPE expectations can ensure everyone is on the same page with staying safe.
#2) Create a Plan for Properly Disinfecting Work Spaces
Effective property maintenance during COVID-19 requires planning, education, and execution. You must work with your maintenance team to properly instruct them on how to clean and sanitize tools, common areas, and other spaces after each job.
Identify the areas on your property that are most likely to be touched by your maintenance team. For example, the maintenance carts your team uses need to be sanitized daily. The handles of the office refrigerator also need to be wiped down. While it is less likely that COVID-19 will be spread by surface contact, it is still possible.
Prevent cross-contamination by assigning certain tasks to different workers. For example, one employee could focus solely on cleaning the clubhouse and on landscaping, while another worker handles trash clean up and basic electrical repair.
Also, guide maintenance techs on how to disinfect areas after they’ve performed work, especially inside of residences. Provide sanitizing equipment that cleans surface areas and encourage increasing air ventilation by opening windows and doors. Don’t forget the tools. Teach each member of your team to sanitize their tools in between each project.
#3) Consider Limiting Work Orders During this Time
There are two ways you can protect your maintenance workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: limiting their contact with each other and limiting their contact with other people. While following the social distancing six-foot rule is effective, avoiding exposure to other people is even better. So, you may want to consider limiting work orders during this time.
By reducing work orders to only essential and emergency maintenance services (like repairing broken air conditioning systems, fixing plumbing problems, and handling electrical work), you limit the number of maintenance staff that will be on your property which decreases the risk of contamination.
Limiting work orders requires communication with residents as well as staff. Communicate with your residents about the planned limitations and explain that this move is for their safety. Explain what qualifies as an essential service request and how to submit it.
You can also look for contact-free ways to submit service requests. For example, when you use work order software like HOMEE with Resident Request, residents can submit work requests through a mobile app and you can approve them without ever being in the same room.
#4) Give Residents Contactless Options
Not only do you want to limit contact with your residents at this time, but you also want to avoid contact with anything they have touched. For example, an infected resident could write a rent check and hand it to one of your team members, increasing the risk of COVID-19 spread by contact.
Look for ways to connect with residents digitally instead of in person. If you don’t have one already, set up residential property management software to receive online rent payments (or at least, set the paper checks aside for a few days before handling them).
Look for other, hands-off ways to communicate necessary information, possibly through email and social media messaging. As you can see, property maintenance during COVID-19 is just as much about resident relations as staff management.
Keep Up With Property Maintenance During COVID-19
As a Property Manager, you need to follow the best practices set out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) and make sure they are implemented on your properties. This means communicating with residents and employees so they can understand what they should do and why.
While you can’t prevent residents from leaving the home or check to see if they've washed their hands, you can create a common area where they feel comfortable and safe riding out this pandemic.