Post-Shelter-In-Place: A Primer for Landlords – Part Two in a Four-Part Series

We don’t know exactly when the Illinois Shelter-In-Place order will be lifted, but we can, and should, start preparing for it. And while the laws and situations are still changing, here are recommended best practices for reopening your buildings to tenants.

Getting Ready for Reentry – A Helpful Checklist

  • Deep clean and disinfect all affected common areas – restrooms, elevators, lobbies, etc., and communicate these precautions and procedures to all tenants going forward.
  • Install hand sanitizer stations in common areas of the building, particularly in those that experience the highest traffic.
  • Communicate regularly with designated tenant representatives regarding the health and safety of the tenant’s employees.
  • Commercial properties should follow Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requirements, set forth in Sections 13 and 14 of OSHA No. 1 of 2006, to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.
  • Consider installing high-efficiency air filters, no-touch mechanisms and simple physical barriers like plastic sneeze guards, where possible.
  • Post education materials, possibly in multiple languages (depending on location), in conspicuous places in common areas, providing information on proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
  • Consider making face masks available to tenants.
  • Post the most up to date CDC guidelines at all building entrances.
  • Limit or eliminate large, public events held in or about the building until it is clear that the pandemic has been eliminated or contained to safe levels for the general public.
  • Review your insurance policies and make certain you are complying with required risk management protocols. Talk to your broker about any need to implement additional coverage.

Guidelines for Handling Cases of Known or Suspected COVID-19 Diagnosis

  • Instruct all tenants to notify owners or building management immediately of a suspected or known COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure, and provide a secure means of transmitting that, and other sensitive information.
  • Make clear the purpose and use of the information being collected and disclose information only as necessary to serve that purpose.
  • Ensure security and confidentiality is maintained for such information and destroy it when no longer needed.
  • Establish and implement a clear and consistent policy for responding to, and addressing reports of, a positive COVID-19 test or exposure.
  • Landlords likely have a legal obligation to notify all other tenants and occupants of a building that someone who has entered the building has tested positive for the virus. Additionally, as part of this obligation, landlords need to inform the building community about what steps are being taken as a result of this finding.
  • In order to avoid violating HIPAA rules, the name of the affected person should never be disclosed. That said, do notify tenants and occupants inhabiting the floor on which the affected tenant works.
  • Contact your insurer and inform them of reports and information relating to suspected or known diagnoses or exposure and ensure compliance with mandated risk mitigation protocol.
  • Landlords may request information verifying a diagnosis should a tenant request special accommodations (separate units or offices/rent abatements), and that the hardships claimed are directly related to diagnoses within the tenants’ personnel.
  • Follow CDC Recommendations on Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection for rooms and areas where tenants with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 have visited the CDC website.