As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, recommendations for our industry are constantly evolving. We have compiled a list of suggested best practices for Property Managers based on the information currently available. This is Pt. 2 of our series, Coronavirus in Condos.
This message has been reinforced time and time again since the World Health Organization (WHO) announced COVID-19 a pandemic. Property Managers are now facing an abundance of property related issues resulting from the novel coronavirus. Residents are spending more time at home, converting their homes into offices, and many are self-isolating. New precautionary steps are being implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure smooth day-to-day operations of Condo and Strata Corporations. Here are some of the recommendations being made.
Basic Condominium Protocol
Before diving in, it is important to lay out basic protocol that Property Managers should be implementing at this time. The Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO) states that condos should:
- Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers at main doors and elevators.
- Display signs reminding residents and visitors to:
- wash hands with soap regularly,
- cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve. Immediately dispose of tissue in a lined trash can and wash your hands,
- avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth, and
- avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Keep objects and surfaces clean and disinfected. Instruct cleaning teams to provide more focus on high-contact surfaces, such as front desk counters, door handles, or common areas.
Notices to Owners
Property Managers should consider providing notices to tenants regarding the following topics:
- Provide tips from and website information for the local public health authority, provincial Ministry of Health, and Health Canada, and request that residents comply with all recommendations.
- Advise that resident should refrain from using the amenities (or close them all together) and minimize the use of the common areas, especially if they have recently travelled and/or exhibit any symptoms such as coughing or fever.
- Advise that residents practice social distancing measures in common element areas such as lobbies, elevators, and other shared facilities.
- Outline and communicate procedures for reporting to property management if the resident is in self-isolation or quarantine.
- Reduce parcel deliveries by highlighting the difference between essential and non-essential items.
- Remind residents of proper garbage disposal and preventing drain clogs and back-ups resulting from residents spending more time at home.
Service Provider and Contractor Best Practices
Before issuing work with service providers and contractors, Property Managers should consider the following precautions:
- Discuss what steps are being taken to minimize the chance of exposure for residents, including ensuring that any representatives who have recently travelled to affected areas are not sent to the site.
- Discuss what measures may be taken if representatives will be entering a unit to perform duties, to address any health concerns of the residents and of the workers.
*Note that in response to COVID-19, Normac has opted to temporarily suspend ALL interior site inspections until further notice and has provided our clients with alternative solutions.*
- Consider postponing non-urgent work where appropriate.
- Discuss with all service providers whether or not any disruption in service is anticipated, including any disruption due to employee absence or supply disruptions.
- Discuss with onsite staff, such as maintenance staff or concierge, any concerns they have relating to the safety of the workplace and encouraging all workers who feel ill to stay home.
- Incorporate social distancing measures for over-the-counter communications with onsite staff.
- Review options and consider business continuity plans in the event of any severe disruptions to the Corporation’s operations as a result of COVID-19.
AGMs and BOD/Council Meetings
One simple approach is to defer any and all meetings to future dates, after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. If the meeting must go on, consider the following:
- Encourage proxy and electronic voting rather than in-person attendance.
- If the total number of condo owners is less than the prohibited 50+ gathering, use a venue that is large enough to accommodate the required 2-meter safe distance between attendees.
- Make hand sanitizers available as well as new pens for completion of ballots and sign-in forms.
- Post signs with reminders of safety precautions — no handshaking, wash hands or use hand sanitizer, stand apart from other owners and maintain the required 2-meter distance, do not touch your face, etc.
- Make arrangements for owners to view the meeting on a live video feed.
- Keep the meeting moving as expeditiously as possible to minimize the duration of the meeting, perhaps offering to answer owner questions by email prior to the meeting to attempt to both reduce in-person attendance and to minimize the duration of the meeting.
- Hold all BOD / Council meetings via Zoom Video Conferencing.
*Note some of this has been revised to reflect current recommendations from health authorities.
REMI Network – Owner And Visitor Disclosure As Crisis Unfolds: https://ccisouthalberta.com/sites/default/uploads/files/Condo%20owner%20and%20visitor%20disclosure%20as%20COVID19%20crisis%20unfolds%20-%20REMI%20Network.pdf
Lawyer’s Daily – Condo Life in the Time of COVID-19: https://www.choa.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/600-014-Preventing-coronavirus.pdf
CBC – Are We Allowed To Take A Drive? A Toronto Doctor Answers Your COVID-19 Questions: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/are-we-allowed-to-take-a-drive-a-toronto-doctor-answers-your-covid-19-questions-1.5507477?ref=mobilerss&cmp=newsletter_CBC%20Toronto_729_11315
CBC – How To Cope With Health Anxiety Related To The Coronavirus Pandemic: https://www.cbc.ca/life/wellness/how-to-cope-with-health-anxiety-related-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic-1.5499698?cmp=newsletter_CBCNewsletter&cmp=newsletter_CBC%20Newsletter_811_9170
RNZ – Exercise, Fresh Air and Laughter Vital For Surviving Self-Isolation: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/412170/covid-19-exercise-fresh-air-and-laughter-vital-for-surviving-self-isolation
David’s Condo Law – COVID1-19 And Condo Fees: https://davidsoncondolaw.ca/covid-19-and-condo-fees/