TIPS ON REOPENING AMENITIES IN A POST-CORONAVIRUS SOCIAL DISTANCING WORLD
TIPS ON REOPENING IN A POST-CORONAVIRUS SOCIAL DISTANCING WORLD
Helpful tips on reopening amenities at your multifamily property.
Amenities and common areas are important benefits to multifamily living. It allows residents space to relax, unwind, stay fit, and complete household chores without having to leave their property. Well-maintained amenities increase renter satisfaction, enhancing the cohesive community environment that owners strive for and renters look for at their properties.
As the severity of the virus wanes and government officials start the process of reopening economic activity, the multifamily asset owner needs to consider and implement new guidelines and procedures that will offer reasonable utilization of amenities and common areas while keeping in mind health, sanitation and safety.
TIPS ON REOPENING AMENITIES
The Welcome Center and leasing office is the area of first impression for a potential renter. It is important that this area set the tone for how the property will be managed, kept safe and sanitized. Here the potential renter will learn about the social distancing and sanitation guidelines that are in place throughout the community.
The clubhouses at different assets offer various activities and levels of usage. Ownership and on-site management should look at the physical configuration of seating and arrange so that it offers reasonable social distancing, while still offering the ability for tenants to take advantage of the area. Limiting the number of occupants at a time and having a schedule or sign-in sheet can help assist residents adjust to the new requirements.
Fitness centers are often tight areas filled with various types of equipment. Even though it may not be accomplishable upon reopening, some thought should be put towards reconfiguration to a more open environment if feasible.
While changes of these types are being contemplated, additional sanitation stations should be installed both outside and inside the fitness center. Cleaning wipes should be made available to the residents if the fitness center is not manned by maintenance or a porter, with signage illustrating the proper way to clean the equipment after use. Occupancy limitation and scheduling requirements should be put in place to ensure safe social distancing.
On-site laundry rooms are a necessity for apartment living if the units are not equipped with washers and dryers. All residents utilizing a shared laundry facility should put their laundry in and come back when the cycle is completed. Affixing a wall sign in the laundry room with the appropriate rules and regulations for usage will help with any questions regarding use.
As this is an area where clothing is potentially co-mingled, maintenance needs to do hourly or bi-hourly cleaning and disinfecting. As it relates to the machines, the detergent and hot water or heat from the dryers should mitigate any spread of germs. This area should also have staggered hours and occupancy restrictions.
Mail Rooms and Package Lockers
Mail rooms and package lockers are small spaces that may not allow for residents to practice social distancing easily. Placing directions as to the importance of social distancing, especially in smaller areas such as these, requiring one person at a time to access the area. If necessary, asset owners can request that tenants have all incoming parcels delivered to their door in lieu of a package locker.
Other options include investing in a hands free package locker system in where tenants can access their packages via a mobile app or installed flat screen panel/tablet. This options allows for less handling of the packages themselves by leasing office staff.
The chairs and tables around the pool and surrounding areas should be separated by six feet. Maintenance needs to be extra diligent in ensuring chemical levels are maintained in the pool itself to prevent bacterial growth. Signs also need to be posted around the pool indicating social distancing guidelines and adherence when swimming or using the area.
An outdoor kitchen offers the benefit of an open space and the ability to spread out according to the social distancing guidelines. It is still important to make sure signs are posted detailing the rules.
A schedule also should be set up for grill usage as not to have groups of families congregating in the area at any one time. Maintenance needs to put special attention to garbage removal and cleanliness of preparation, cooking areas and grills.
Management should limit the amount of dogs in the area at given time and the time spent in the area in. Residents should be encouraged to stay out of the dog park areas and let the designated areas be used for the dogs.
Basketball courts are an open environment, however, the nature of the game involves close contact. Signs should be posted that while using the court the players should keep in mind safe social distancing. Also, strict rules about congregating on the court should be enforced.
There is no one magic bullet to address all of the issues that will rise from the COVID-19 virus and its after effect. Some of these suggested plans of actions may not be feasible to implement.
It is of of utmost importance that asset owners and their in-house or 3rd party management implement a plan to address the phased opening in their respective market In the absence of a cohesive plan, the decisions are left to the residents which might not be in the best interest of stabilizing the asset and the well-being of the community as a whole.
Please check out the first article in our new series – Multifamily Investing in a Post-Coronavirus Social Distancing World.