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The ultimate guide to property management during the COVID-19 pandemic

Best practices to continue managing your buildings during the Coronavirus disruptions

Mar 27, 2020

Property managers across the world are on the front lines of managing communities reeling from the impacts of COVID-19. In this post, we’ve gathered as many resources as we could to help you manage your community and work-life. This blog post will be updated consistently over the next few weeks with new advice and resources as they come out.

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If you have any questions, suggestions, or additions, please contact us at hello@verticalcity.com.

Doing your part to #flattenthecurve

Property managers and condo boards have the opportunity to lead the fight against COVID-19 through thoughtful and rapid action in their communities. We’ve collected some common strategies that PMs are employing to help fight the spread of the virus.

If you’re wondering why you should do your part to #flattenthecurve, we found these two articles particularly helpful:

Shut down building social rooms, gyms and swimming pools

This step will probably come as no surprise, but it’ll be a hard one to stomach for some building communities. As people spend more time at home, they’ll want to use building facilities more and more, which unfortunately goes against all recommendations for the world’s leading medical authorities. The best practice for property managers is to take the temptation away from residents by closing common social until your local government gives the go-ahead to start gathering in groups again. 

Close guest suites

Some buildings reserve a room for guests staying in the building. Given the government recommendations to limit all non-essential travel, best practice would be close guest suites for the time being. If you need to keep them open, we recommend adding a cleaning fee and to schedule a deep clean between any guests.

Increase the cleaning schedule for doors, mailboxes, and elevator buttons

While many of your residents may be limiting their travel in and out of the building, they won’t be completely shut-in. It’s important to direct cleaning staff to focus on particularly high-transmission areas during this time.

Make sure your staff are cleaning correctly

The coronavirus lives on copper for 4 hours, on cardboard for 1 day, and on plastic for 3 days (according to one study). It’s vital that staff know how to clean effectively for the virus.

Here are a few guides you can share with them on how to clean effectively during the pandemic:

Stop using paper building notices or touchscreens

Paper building notices slipped under doors and touch screens that require resident interaction are possible ways the virus can be spread throughout buildings quickly. If possible, use digital means of communication or screens in your building that don’t require physical touch. 

Use these free COVID-19 building notice template to spread health awareness

We’ve created some free building notice templates for use by anyone who needs to communicate health messages to their building tenants. They can be used on our elevators screens or distributed digitally.

Getting your job done 

We’ve all had to change the way we work in light of the pandemic. Below we’ve collected advice on how to make the transition to working safely while maintaining social distancing practices.

Run resident or board meetings on Zoom/Google Hangouts/Skype (many are offering their tools for free) 

There are many options to run meetings online with video conferencing. Right now, many of them are offering their services for free or with significant discounts in light of the situation. At Vertical City, we use Zoom and have had conference calls of 40+ people effectively.

Host weekly or biweekly 30 min online condo board meetings

With the COVID-19 situation changing so quickly, you may need to increase the frequency of meeting in your community to deal with changing situations, outbreaks, or new government guidelines. Regular, shorter meetings can provide the consistency needed during this turbulent time.

Host a digital AGM

Some buildings and communities may be in the position that they need to hold an AGM during this pandemic. In this situation, you’ll have to conduct the AGM virtually. Any of the main video conference solutions listed above can accommodate meetings of hundreds of people. As long as they have a computer with a microphone or a smart-phone device, they will be able to participate in the meeting.

Implement a digital voting system for AGMs and Board Meetings

There are many ways you can implement a digital voting system for your meetings and condo. Here are a few articles and tools to help you do it.

Use online payments to collect rent

Property managers should encourage tenants to make rent payments using a pre-authorized debit program, e-transfer or other online banking options. If this is not possible, ask your tenants to prepare cheques in an envelope, limit your direct physical contact with the cheques, and use gloves when handling. 

Implement a digital communication platform for your building

Condo Control Central

If you’ve been looking for a reason to implement a digital communication system in your building, now is the perfect time to do it. Systems like Condo Control Central or similar work as all-in-one solutions to many common condo issues.

In February we were excited to announce our new integration with Condo Control Central. If you use Condo Control Central, you can share building notices from within the platform directly to the Vertical City elevator screens in your building.

Use a digital contracting system

Meeting up to sign a paper contract during this pandemic is no longer feasible in most cases, but that doesn’t mean the wheels of business need to stop. There are many digital contracting systems that you can quickly implement to collect digital signatures from residents, contractors, or anyone else you’re doing business with.

Tools we recommend adopting for working remotely

  • Our elevator & lobby screens - Elevator screens in your building are a great way to communicate with residents for no cost.
  • Zoom - Our preferred solution for video conferencing. Here is their guide to using video conferencing during this time.
  • MailChimp - Easily create a property newsletter to send out updates (free up to 2000 contacts)
  • Loom - an app that allows you to record short videos using your web cam, desktop, and computer microphone. Great for explaining specific issues or making small presentations
  • Slack - Struggling to keep in touch with your property management team or staff? Slack is a free team communication tool used by thousands of companies to keep in touch and discuss issues.
  • Condo Control Central - a great community communication tool that integrates with our elevator screens.

Do you have other tools to recommend? Email hello@verticalcity.com with your suggestions.

What to do when a resident gets COVID-19

Here are a few helpful guidelines if one of your residents gets sick.

Encourage the resident to follow the CDC guidelines 

The CDC has provided a very clear guide for individuals who are infected. If a resident believes they have the virus, send them this link and ask them to follow the steps diligently. 

What To Do if You Are Sick - CDC

If there are many seniors in your building, take extra precaution

Many people living in retirement communities and independent living facilities (ILF) are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 because they

  • Are older adults and/or
  • Have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease.

We recommend following the CDC recommendations for retirement communities

Inform the authorities, but keep privacy laws in mind.

The Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario had this advice for property managers:

“If there is a presumed or confirmed case of COVID-19 in any rental property, local public health authorities should be immediately notified, and any medical directions they provide should be followed diligently. But due to privacy laws, FRPO stresses that landlords should not identify by name anyone in the building who’s been infected, reminding housing providers that it’s the role of public health authorities to reach out to any other tenants who may have come into contact with that individual.” - Article

Additional Resources 

We are here to help you with anything we can during this stressful time. Please feel free to email support@verticalcity.com or contact us at 780.628.6806.

Stay safe out there!

The Vertical City Team

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