6 Ways to Reopen an Apartment Community Safely

by McKenna Hogan, on Sep 3, 2020 8:30:00 AM

Preparing your community to reopen after months of lockdown? We’ve compiled a list of six ways apartment communities can reopen safely and effectively for staff, tenants and future residents.

1. Enforce CDC guidelines

With the opening of certain amenities and social spaces within an apartment community, the only surefire way residents and employees can remain safe is to closely follow CDC guidelines when entering such spaces.

Luckily, the CDC provides a guide for shared or congregate housing to ease the process.

The first step for property workers will be to understand and stay updated on current safety regulations - AKA new updates from the CDC as well as reputable news sources.

Next steps will be to implement CDC guidelines for all shared spaces. A few of which are listed below.

  • Social distance by at least 6 feet
  • Wear a mask when not seated
  • Wash hands before entering a new establishment
  • Have temperature taken before entering

Many of us know these as common regulations nowadays. Below we will discuss how to communicate and enforce these precautions throughout your community.

2. Provide codes of conduct for each space

Most people know of current safety regulations, but not all shared spaces require the same rules for conduct—which is why posting descriptive guidelines in each space will ensure there’s no confusion.

Social Distance Sign

The CDC recommends implementing visual cues as a constant reminder of appropriate and safe behavior. Below are a few examples of how to deliver important messaging to tenants and staff.

  • Post signage
  • Use tape as a social distance marker
  • Send email reminders
  • Post regulations on websites and social media
  • Create a pamphlet with guidelines for direct mail

With constant reminders and specified rules laid out visually across a community, it will be impossible to leave any individual confused or unsure of how to conduct themselves.

3. Open amenities and social spaces one at a time

Some renters have shown disapproval or annoyance in regards to paying for amenities that they can’t use—so it’s understandable property managers would want to reopen as soon as possible.

However, when opening up too much and too quickly, tenants may presume everything is back to normal, and not practice safety precautions as strictly.

Opening up one or a few amenities at a time could help slowly transition into a new normal, without overwhelming anyone or causing an apartment-wide outbreak.

Not to mention, it will be easier to regulate each space and ensure residents are informed and comfortable adjusting to the new requirements when reopened one at a time.

The CDC has recommendations for community areas reopening, a few of which can be seen below.

  • Utilize hand gestures and visual cues in community areas
  • Modify the layout of spaces to accommodate social distancing
  • Limit the number of individuals at one time
  • Implement a sign up schedule for allotted times
  • Ensure proper ventilation by opening windows more frequently
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly

By staggering the opening of amenities as well as practicing these safety precautions, your community will have a better chance of staying safe and open.

4. Implement specified communication systems

Asking individuals, especially neighbors, to report any misconduct within the community may seem uncomfortable—but it’s a good way to keep tabs on your property as well as ensuring every tenant is comfortable.

Providing a number renters can anonymously call to report minor mishaps doesn’t have to be about getting anyone in trouble.

In fact, it’s just an easy way to keep track of how things are going since reopening, and perhaps provide information on how to improve community guidelines.

In addition to an anonymous report contact, having a number that tenants can call if they’re experiencing COVID symptoms will be pertinent.

Regularly updating staff and community members by phone or email regarding any updates in building regulations, possible COVID cases, and any new updates on local news should be a priority once your community opens to ensure every individual is properly informed.

Overall, new ways of communicating throughout your apartment community can be one of the easiest and most effective ways of maintaining your building.

5. Provide appropriate PPE

Property managers should make it a number one priority to always have PPE stocked and dispersed throughout the community to encourage safe practices everywhere 24/7.

COVID-19 Masks

Listed below are mandatory supplies for public spaces.

  • Masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Soap
  • Tissues
  • Paper towels
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • No-touch trash cans

Keeping inventory of safety supplies will be important in the beginning so you’re always prepared and never scrambling to get the next order in.

6. Implement technologies that encourage social distancing

Although apartment communities may be opening up, you might have leasing staff still working from home or future residents who are still weary of face-to-face meetings.

While socially-distant, in-person apartment tours have started to make a return, it’s not unusual that some future residents will want to take a virtual tour on their own or over a video call.

Opting for virtual tours during this time may be more important than ever with communities reopening their amenities as well. This means it’s not as likely that new residents touring the space will come into contact with current tenants.

Giving a virtual guided tour can maintain the number of visitors and individuals exposed to public spaces, and overall, keep everyone safe.

When in doubt, turn to CDC resources

Whether it be staying up to date, ensuring your community is following the right precautions, or you need resources for an emergency, the CDC has reliable and extensive information to help maintain everyone's safety.

Just keep in mind that the most important thing to remember is to continuously keep up with these practices. If something isn’t working, prioritize learning from it and adjusting to fit the needs of the community.

Topics:Multifamily

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