The COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak is a major interruption to our everyday lives. Not only has the pandemic resulted in the cancellation of major sporting events, closing of schools, and restrictions on travel, it has also placed an unexpected burden on how business is conducted.
What affect will COVID-19 have on the multifamily industry? We know that there are tough decisions being made by property managers around the country on how to handle the situation. In this blog, we’ll offer 10 solutions you can use to maintain normalcy until this time of uncertainty is over.
Because this is a fluid situation, we strongly encourage that you comment and/or share this blog post. Please let us know what is happening at your apartment community and how it’s being dealt with. This post will be updated, if necessary.
1. Embrace DocuSign Leases
DocuSign allows your leasing agents to send and receive agreement signatures online rather than in person. The benefit is twofold: lessees can perform e-signatures from anywhere and mitigate their risk of contracting Coronavirus, and your community’s leasing process can become more streamlined and user-friendly. Embracing DocuSign, especially now, is a win-win.
2. Highlight Your Walkthrough Video Tours and Floorplan-Specific Content
With all of the closings and restrictions on travel, potential residents likely won’t be driving to tour your apartment community in person. This is where having marketing pieces like walkthrough video tours and floorplan-specific photos online become even more valuable. They allow prospective residents the opportunity to imagine themselves living in one of your available apartments from the comfort of their own home. Those of you who have already partnered with RentVision are uniquely positioned for an increase in traffic to your website because you already have these features in place, and now is a smart time to highlight those features in your apartment marketing plan.
If you feel now is the time to bring those valuable features to your community’s website, we encourage you to learn more about RentVision’s Photo & Video solutions and then sign up to join our waitlist. This way, our team can prioritize and serve your apartment community the best way possible while dealing with the ongoing pandemic.
3. Provide a Lock Box Outside of Your Clubhouse
Another solution to reducing person-to-person contact is by providing a lock box outside of your apartment’s clubhouse. This can be useful for multiple purposes, but for this scenario, we envision you using it as a place to put a new resident’s keys for when they’re first moving in. Most lock boxes have a four-digit security code, so you’ll just need to provide that to the resident ahead of time.
4. Require Maintenance Staff to Wear Gloves Upon Entering Occupied Units
Your maintenance staff are the most at-risk for spreading and contracting the Coronavirus because they have their hands on just about everything around your apartment community. Requiring them to wear latex gloves when they enter occupied apartments throughout the day is a way of showing that you care about their health and safety. It also sends a message to your residents that you’re considering their well-being.
5. Prioritize Essential Maintenance Requests
In addition to providing your maintenance staff with gloves and other safety equipment, it’s also important that you put an emphasis on only essential requests. For example, if a resident calls saying that water is leaking from their ceiling, that would certainly require your immediate attention. However, if a request comes in for a kitchen cupboard that won’t close all the way, it’s not essential to send a member of your staff into harm’s way for something so small. In these cases, you can let your residents know that you will handle their request at a later date.
6. Have Residents Replace Their Air Filters
Another helpful solution for your maintenance staff is to have residents replace their own air filters. Air filters can be delivered outside of each resident’s door instead of having a maintenance member enter the apartment. While this may not be an easy task to place on your residents, it could become a necessity especially if quarantine protocols are put into place. Perhaps they’d appreciate a short video tutorial for assistance. If you still feel safe, you may consider changing all air filters now so you don’t have to do it again for a few months.
7. Encourage Electronic Payments
If your apartment community hasn’t implemented electronic payments already, now is a smart time to do so. It’s practical for both you and your residents so they don’t come through your clubhouse to drop off rent checks. Even if there may be some holdouts, we believe that they’ll be understanding considering the current situation. You can explain to them that again, you’re looking out for their health. Additionally, payments submitted electronically will prevent you from having to drive to a bank and risk more unnecessary exposure.
8. Disinfect Door Knobs, Handles, and Railings
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends disinfecting and cleaning frequently touched surfaces daily to curtail the spread of Coronavirus. Door knobs, handles, and railings are great places to start, but there are ways to go further. Wipe down keyboards, toilets, gym equipment, etc. Placing sanitizing wipes and antibacterial soap in visible locations will also encourage residents to keep a clean environment.
9. Cancel Community Events
Another recommendation from the CDC is to distance yourself from others. That’s the motivating factor that caused the suspension of all professional and collegiate sporting events—to prevent the gathering of large crowds. The same practice should apply to any of your upcoming community events until further notice. You may also want to cancel all use of both the community room and gym in your clubhouse, and even consider not opening your pool.
10. Be Communicative
With any of these preventative measures, it’s vital that your staff remains in constant communication with residents. As stated earlier, they need to know that any actions you take are being done for their health and safety. Some good ideas would be to place signs or flyers around the community stating your policies regarding the Coronavirus. It’s also important to give up-to-date information via email or social media to your current and prospective residents. The goal is to have all parties on the same page.
We hope this article provides some timely ideas and advice to equip you to better manage your community. Please comment below with more ideas.