The COVID-19 Virus has made a giant impact on the health of people around the world. We encourage everyone to be vigilant and follow the guidelines in place to protect oneself. Not to minimize the health effect, these articles will be about COVID-19’s impact on real estate, which is our expertise. The stock and bond market is widely transparent on a minute by minute basis and we hope to provide a transparency into the real estate market.
COVID-19 has thrown us all into unprecedented times. We’re all getting used to a new normal, and that is also true for commercial real estate investors and users. With the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, and its ability to live on different surfaces for multiple hours, and sometimes days, the cleaning of work spaces and common areas has never been more important to maintain the health of building tenants and guests.
But, responding to this pandemic starts with awareness. Owners and property managers should consider educating their tenants on steps that they can take to limit the chances of others getting sick. Spreading information through emails, mailers, and posted notes can be done to ensure that tenants are aware of what the disease is, how to prevent it, and how landlords and property managers are monitoring the situation and keeping tenants informed of updates, and especially what precautions are being taken.
Awareness is only part of the battle, though. Landlords and property managers should be proactive about disease control measures. The frequency of regularly scheduled cleaning could be increased, with a primary focus on making sure that regularly touched surfaces, such as door handles, counters, devices, etc. are cleaned as frequently as possible. Consider stocking up on disinfectants and supplies, and hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes could be made available in all common areas.
According to some experts, though, the first line of defense against COVID-19 is improving a building’s air quality. Improving air quality is not only the best way to improve a building’s health, but also give it its biggest ROI. Owners or facility managers could consider running the fans, upgrading the filters, and keeping the filters clean. Also, by letting in fresh air in large quantities, owners and property managers can help dilute airborne contaminants, reducing the risk of infection.
If improving air circulation is not an option, then investments could be made on improving air circulation. By upgrading filters to what’s known as an MERV rating of 13 or higher (which is what hospitals use) filtration systems will be able to catch more than 80 percent of viral particles. Higher humidity ranges, between 40 and 60 percent, are also optimal for lessening a virus’ ability to spread, but tenants’ comfort level should be kept in mind when exercising this option.
In the event that a guest visiting the building has been diagnosed with COVID-19, owners do have an obligation to notify all other tenants and occupants of the building that a person who has entered the building has tested positive for the virus, and what steps are being taken to ensure tenants’ health and well-being. All common areas should be, if possible, closed off for a deep clean and disinfection. Depending on the terms of the lease the tenant signed, owners and property managers may or may not be responsible for the deep clean of the tenant’s space, and that includes any extra precautionary cleaning as well.
Owners, property managers, and even tenants, can no longer sit idly by and hope that COVID-19 doesn’t affect them. It is all of our responsibility to help flatten the curve, and that begins with being proactive about the health of a building. The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner we can get back to normal.