Property Management Insight – Sharing Recent Observations

Posted on:
May 7, 2020
Filed under:

May 2020

SRSA’s property management team participated in a Zoom conversation to talk about what we’ve been experiencing and learning over the last seven weeks while operating during the Coronavirus / COVID-19 crisis.

Our team agreed from the start that the highest priority is the health and safety of our tenants, visitors and employees, while allowing properties to remain open and accessible. This has meant quickly taking action and adopting new practices and processes while staying updated on emerging information.

When the crisis started, property management firms were fairly uniform in their actions – marking off 6-foot distances for lines at entrances, limiting the number of people allowed into buildings, and quickly establishing a cleaning regimen for common area high-touch surfaces. Over time our teams began implementing tailored solutions specific to each property.

For one of the Metairie office buildings our team manages, we implemented several safety measures starting with signage to remind occupants of the six-foot distancing rule. We limited elevator access to one person at a time and began a high maintenance schedule for disinfecting common high-touch surfaces while the porter is on duty. To minimize contact with common area surfaces we opened entrance doors to fixed positions allowing occupants to enter and exit the building freely. Additional plans call for small tables with disinfectant wipes staged in the elevators for use when pressing the call buttons. Bathroom renovations will include receptacles near the exits allowing hand towels to be deposited after use when opening the door.

On our medical portfolio, we implemented various procedures including disinfecting air filters to ensure clean air would continue to circulate, and working after hours to decrease risk of exposure. At one location we worked with a tenant to install UV lights in the HVAC system ductwork to disinfect the air.

On the Northshore, it was discovered that two of our tenants had an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19. In each of those office buildings, our property management team worked with the building ownership to quickly disinfect the suites and the common areas of those properties.

Our property management team has been in continuous communication with owners and tenants, providing assistance and advice on a daily basis along with real-time reporting. Questions about rent collection and lease agreements are among the biggest issues. We are regularly reaching out to tenants to discuss timing of rent payments, deferred rent agreements, true-up periods, and lease negotiation, as appropriate for each tenant’s situation. We work to strike a balance between our obligation to collect rent and the tenant’s interests during these difficult times. Every tenant’s situation is different, and most landlords will deal with those types of rent issues on a case by case basis. This topic can get very complex as there are multiple factors to consider and we are happy to have one of our brokers consult with you on those situations on an individual basis.

As we look ahead, how can we maintain social distancing at work if the virus becomes a common occurrence? In this linked article and video, the 6 Feet Office project is one solution, believing that office designs should have 6 foot social distancing for cubicles. In addition to new office layouts, we believe technology updates such as automatic doors and speech assist elevators may become more common to assist in a touchless experience from a person's car to their office desk. Owners may have to increase investment in their properties to improve common area safety concerns, while tenants should do the same within their suites.

As we move forward, SRSA will continue to work with our clients, tenants, and industry colleagues to adapt and improve work environments for all.

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SRSA thrives in the Commercial Real Estate space serving clients across greater New Orleans and Gulf South areas. We handle over 4 million square feet commercial property for clients both large and small.
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