Tips for property managers during the Covid-19 lockdown
As of March 2020, we’re seeing an unprecedented event in the form of the spread of the coronavirus. The ...
As of March 2020, we’re seeing an unprecedented event in the form of the spread of the coronavirus. The WHO has now identified this as a pandemic and the ensuing closure of businesses and services has affected many of us in ways we’ve never experienced before. But how is this going to affect block managers, and how can you keep offering as normal a service as possible in the face of this adversity.
It’s most likely that you will be offering a reduced service during this time, perhaps with less staff to hand, or even operating from a different location. However, there are still tasks that need doing regularly as part of your residential block management remit.
Maintaining hygiene standards
You very likely already have a cleaning rota and schedule to ensure the hygiene of your communal spaces, but in the coronavirus era, you’ll need to apply this more rigorously than ever.
Ensure door handles, lift buttons, push plates and other touchable surfaces are cleaned using antibacterial disinfectant more regularly than usual
If possible, make hand sanitiser available in communal spaces to your tenants ?
Make sure rubbish or other waste is removed quickly from hallways or other communal areas.
In short, whatever measures you have in place to maintain hygiene, make sure to double down.
Make it easy for at risk residents to communicate with you.
In every residential block, you will have people with varying needs and special requirements. During the isolation period, make sure your tenants know how they can get in touch with you, the block manager, and what they can get in touch for.
You might want to offer services to your at-risk tenants such as:
Delivering shopping to their door
Giving them information about local health and emergency services
Helping them with waste disposal, such as taking their bins out or providing cleaning products if needed
Keeping in close communication if they do fall ill or have to self Isolate
At risk tenants may not always seem obvious, so bear this in mind too. Although government advice is currently focused on the over 70s and those with pre-existing conditions, there are other at-risk groups such as pregnant women, asthma sufferers, heavy smokers, drug users and alcoholics.
Disruptions to services, rental and lease agreements
The current coronavirus pandemic is proving disruptive to many people across all walks of life, and the government is already looking at how this might affect the rental property market. In the coming months, you might find that there are issues with service charges, service delivery and other aspects of your operation. This will likely be a result of the knock-on effect of people struggling to pay their rent or issues with business supply chains and payments. Try and account for this with your plans for the coming year,
Keep an eye on government announcements regarding support for those most affected. But, moving forward, we may all find that there will be extensive disruption to all of our lives in terms of financial issues.
Limit the possibility of exposure for everyone
Even with a reduced footfall, you will likely have many different people passing through your building during the pandemic. This might include delivery people, medical professionals, maintenance teams and even your own staff.
Try to maintain the advised distancing between people of 1 meter (3 feet) at all times
Avoid touching anyone and instead ask people to put down deliveries at the reception or, when exchanging keys, make sure they are placed on the counter instead of passed from hand to hand
Encourage everyone to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer or gloves on arrival and departure from your building
Make tissues available so that if anyone does cough or sneeze they have something to catch it
Avoid using a signature pad for your building software when residents are collecting parcels or keys and just let your concierge put their name down
Make it easy for staff or other workers to let you know if they feel ill and make sure they do not come to work
Ask residents to avoid gathering in communal spaces to limit the possibility of spreading the virus
Deliveries may need to be coordinated to ensure no exposure to other residents, so explain to residents how this might affect them.
Planning for a total lockdown
Although the UK government is maintaining that there will be no restrictions on movement (as of 19th March 2020), nobody knows yet what the future holds. At this point, it would be very wise to put in place processes for your team to work remotely with minimal disruption to your service delivery.
Many features of building management systems (BMS) can be monitored via remote notifications. So for critical or important issues, you can activate these notifications and normally also set up processes for issues to be dealt with promptly. With access control systems, you can also program fobs remotely, so you can allow access without needing to be in the office. For any CCTV systems in place, ensure that these can be accessed remotely, or set up a process to store and review footage as necessary.
There are software options that can be used for quick and effective communication with all your residents and leaseholders. So, in this rapidly changing environment, using cloud-based software such as Lobital can be a true lifesaver and help to keep all residents informed of developments.
Whatever software you’re using, make sure you have the correct contact details especially emails for all of your residents.
You can also use collaborative tools to work with your teams such as GoToMeeting, Slack, Zoom, Skype and Google Docs to work remotely with your team.
How we can help
Those of you already using Lobital will be able to use our features to communicate with residents and let them know how to get in touch and what support you can offer. And with changes happening almost hourly, it is a good idea to keep people in the loop on a daily basis with how these changes affect your service delivery.
Of course, you’ll still be needing to coordinate maintenance and other essential services across your residential properties, and having the tools to organise this effectively is more important than ever. We understand too that many of you will be operating with reduced staff and perhaps working remotely yourself.
If you need any assistance or advice about how Lobital can help you navigate the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, please get in touch and we will do our best to offer our support.
To stay up to date with the UK governments official advice about how to handle coronavirus, please visit:
- Date- 30 March, 2020
- Author- Frederick Mensah
- View all Blogs