What Successful Properties Are Doing Right During COVID
With all the risks the current global pandemic poses, it’s hard to imagine any industry touting best practices to keep thriving in the economic sense. Many businesses are merely treading water, with keeping one’s head above the water seeming to be the order of the day.
However, there are certain industry practices that stand out as not just practical, but life-changing, as well. This is especially true with real estate. With lockdowns and sheltering-in-place policies, how can one ensure that their property will be safe from pandemics and disasters - current and future?
Ensure proper drainage and plumbing
Apart from ensuring free-flowing water to help residents sanitize (and wash their hands) at all times, proper plumbing holds the key to preventing widespread infection among neighbors.
Those who dwell in residential complexes and living next door to each other might have a false sense of security being surrounded by their own four walls. However, faulty bathroom drains and plumbing could help spread the virus from one unit to another. Smartly-designed plumbing - especially for high-rises and apartment complexes - can ensure that water flows smoothly from each unit to the main building’s drain without spreading anything harmful among residents.
Maintain adequate air circulation and filtration system
Air filtration systems can drastically reduce the risk of spreading airborne diseases - provided they are regularly maintained. Even upscale properties tout air filtration and thermostat control, boasting of high-efficiency filters that screen for microscopic particles. Those buildings that use lower-grade filters (with a MERV rating lower than 13) cannot control airborne particles and are therefore more susceptible to recycling contaminated air.
However, getting high-tech air filters brand-new is vastly different from having them still working optimally several years down the line. Regular maintenance is key to keeping a home or property free from harmful viruses and other airborne diseases. Building managers should be strict about consistently cleaning and maintaining air filter systems, or at least look into providing air purifiers for tenants to help keep the air circulating properly.
Provide appropriate ventilation
Fresh air is still your best bet when it comes to proper ventilation. This means windows that allow air to flow freely while keeping out harmful pollutants, and vents that are strategically placed to keep air circulating adequately. Aside from providing much-needed natural light, fresh air can keep indoor areas from smelling and becoming stale (and consequently, allowing viruses to linger indoors longer).
Kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of the house where “bad air” is likely to exist should all have windows, no matter how tiny, to keep air recirculating. In lieu of this, an exhaust fan could do the trick - but nothing beats the function and reliability of a good, old-fashioned window that opens and shuts.
Regularly disinfect public area surfaces
Even without a pandemic wreaking havoc on the way people normally live, disinfecting public spaces should be a given. This should be especially true with high-rise residential buildings and apartment blocks that have elevators and other potentially congested areas.
There should be regularly scheduled disinfecting of waiting areas, elevators, entryways, lobbies, shops, and other places with constant foot traffic. Apart from spraying with disinfectants, scheduled maintenance should also include carefully wiping down surfaces that typically get touched several times a day, such as banisters, elevator keypads, doorbells or buzzers, public doors and gates, lounge tables and chairs, etc.
Install handwashing stations and disinfectant mats
Residents and homeowners can wear masks, gloves, and face shields to protect themselves and others. A property manager can give their protection a further boost by installing disinfectant accessories throughout the building or complex for easy access and use.
There are now hands-free hand sanitizer dispensers that use foot pedals so there’s no need to touch any surface while cleaning one’s hands. For outdoor areas, the use of large stomp mats - rubber pads that are soaked in a disinfectant solution to help clean the soles of shoes - could help eliminate the spread of viruses and germs from getting into homes.
To minimize (or hopefully eliminate altogether) the effects of COVID-19 and other diseases, a property has to go back to the basics of sound architecture and engineering. An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure, after all. But even older properties can upgrade some vital things to address this pandemic for current and future considerations.
Bio: Elisha Finman is an experienced RE executive proficient in operations, finances and team building. His track record includes managing a portfolio of New York City multifamily residential buildings. Skilled in all areas of RE management including setting rents, leases, collections and legal, evictions, violations hpd-dob-ecb, building maintenance and instituting cost savings and efficiency measures.