The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting everyone, including landlords. Understandably, you may have many questions and concerns in regards to how you should go about the situation as a landlord.
As a landlord, your #1 responsibility to your tenants is to ensure your tenants live in a safe and habitable property. You might be wondering how exactly you should go about maintaining your property. In this article, we will explain how you should perform maintenance to your Texas property during this pandemic. This includes:
- Communicating better with your tenants.
- Taking precautions when carrying out the maintenance.
- Ensuring you don’t run out of material stock.
- Notifying your tenants about the maintenance.
Communication with Your Residents
Having good communication with your tenants is crucial to the success of your rental investment. This is true now more than ever. Your tenants want to know that you are still there and will still ensure they have a safe and habitable place to live.
When it comes to repair requests, respond as quickly as you can. This is especially important in the case of an emergency. Some examples of maintenance emergencies include:
- Electrical power outage.
- Water leaks.
- Broken doors and/or windows.
- A stove or refrigerator that’s not working.
- Garbage disposal not functioning properly.
- The property not having hot water.
- A bathtub not draining as it should.
- The toilet overflowing or not flushing properly.
- Carbon monoxide present in the property.
- Gas leaks.
Besides responding to repair requests quickly, you’ll also want to share factual information that’s helpful to your tenants. They will certainly appreciate your help to provide them with credible resources during a time of such uncertainty.
Ideally, you should not respond to maintenance requests later than 48 hours after receiving them. When responding, you need to take all the appropriate precautions when visiting their homes and being around other people, both for your safety and theirs.
Suggested Maintenance Precautions
To prevent contracting or spreading the coronavirus, you or your contractor should take the following precautions. At OmniKey, we have an in house team who follow proper protocols for these items.
- Greet other people without physical contact. Rather than shaking hands, greet tenants with a friendly wave, nod, or smile.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Then, dispose of the used tissue and thoroughly wash your hands immediately. Wearing a mask of some type is a strong recommendation.
- Keep a safe distance from tenants. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends maintaining a safe distance of at least 6 feet from other people.
- Clean and disinfect any and all surfaces that you will or have touched. Before beginning your work, make sure to disinfect surfaces of frequent contact. These surfaces include sinks, faucets, toilets, countertops, light switches, and doorknobs.
- Avoid touching your face. The WHO recommends that people take special care not to touch their mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands as often as you can. According to HealthLink BC, washing hands helps lower your risk of infection and reduce the spread of infection to others. The source also recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds. We recommend putting on gloves prior to entering a property and disposing of them when leaving the property. You should sanitize before and after as well.
If you or your contractor feel unwell or have been sick in the preceding 2 weeks, you should find someone else to address the situation.
Keep Supplies on Hand
Be sure to order supplies before you run out. While you don’t want to be excessive with the amount you buy, you want to make sure that you have enough supplies to make performing maintenance as safe as possible. The protective supplies you should stock up on include:
- Gloves: have enough so that you’re not cross-contaminating any surfaces.
- Hand Sanitizer: hand sanitizer is not a replacement for washing your hands, however, it is helpful when you don’t have immediate access to soap and water.
- Masks: wearing a mask isn’t necessary, however, it does minimize the chances of spreading fluids without meaning to.
Let Your Tenants Know About the Maintenance
Tenants don’t like surprise visits from contractors, handymen, and their landlord. Remember, your tenants have a right to the quiet enjoyment of their homes. If you are planning any maintenance on the property, make sure to provide your tenant with sufficient notice unless it is an emergency. We utilize an automatic notification system that texts and emails all tenants.
You and your maintenance crew should be aware that tenants and their families, often including children, are now going to be at home during the day. This means that extra safety precautions should be taken to avoid any mishappenings. We do not recommend entering or working in properties without an adult present if there are children in the unit.
Further, you need to make sure you’re aware of the distractions and noise that maintenance can cause. Many tenants are now working from home, so make sure you communicate what you will be doing well ahead of time for them so they can make appropriate arrangements.
Considerations for Responding to Service Requests During Covid-19
Before performing any maintenance to your rental properties, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Would a phone call suffice to talk to the tenant through this repair themselves? If the task can be done quickly and easily, then consider guiding your tenant through it rather than send a maintenance worker or going yourself. This can help spread infections. This is also a great tool to reduce repair costs which is why we recommend and do it!
- Should I suspend non-essential repairs? How do I determine what is and isn’t essential? Generally, any repairs that impact the health and safety of your tenants are essential services and have priority over other services. You may be able to delay or postpone repairs that aren’t essential until a later time. This is typically not our recommendation as small items can become large easily if left undone.
- Remember that reassurance is important. Let your tenants know that you are taking all the necessary steps to ensure they are safe during the maintenance. For instance, have your maintenance worker put gloves on in front of the tenant to show them that they are clean and haven’t been reused from different tasks or different areas.
- Ask your maintenance crew to be mindful when conducting the maintenance, as it’s likely your tenant is working from home. Your tenants will definitely appreciate it.
- Consider switching to a professional property management company if you are currently self-managing. Professional managers have the protocols and knowledge to ensure everything runs as smoothly and as safely as possible.
Even during these uncertain and difficult times, property maintenance is still key. Hiring a competent property management company, such as OmniKey Realty, will ensure that your property is not only taken care of but that the highest possible safety levels are taken into account as well.