Keeping HOA and Condo Common Areas Clean During the Coronavirus Pandemic
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During these unprecedented times, residents are spending the majority of their time at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect themselves and their loved ones from infection. One of their primary contact points with the outside world is in your HOA or condo common areas, where they can be at risk of contact with lingering coronavirus or even spread existing virus to other areas of the property.
The Center for Disease Control & Prevention (“CDC”) has made recommendations related to social distancing and the wearing of face coverings. In addition to those recommendation, one of the other most critical ways that communities can prevent the spread of coronavirus is through cleaning and disinfecting of your community common areas. Read on for a comprehensive list of places to clean and how to clean them.
Before you begin, make sure the staff are using cleaning supplies that are on the list of coronavirus-fighting products and that none of the products are too diluted to properly disinfect surfaces and have been provided the proper personal protective equipment when cleaning. When wiping down surfaces, ensure that not only the cleaner is strong enough, but that the towel, cloth or sponge being used is clean as well. Do not reuse cloths or sponges until they’ve been properly sanitized with hot water and detergent.
All Entrances (Front Doors, Receiving, Garage Levels):
Wipe down the handles and the door regularly, especially after high-traffic times in the morning or evenings, to make sure there are the fewest amount of people touching the entryways as possible in between cleaning.
If any doors are outfitted with automatic door buttons, encourage residents to use those rather than door handles and wipe them down frequently.
Additionally, if you don’t already, consider assigning a door attendant at the front door to reduce the number of possible touchpoints for residents.
It’s the first place many residents go for information or to pick up packages, so it’s critical to make sure the front desk is consistently cleaned throughout the day. It’s especially important that top of the desk is cleaned, as well as any phones and computer equipment at the desk.
When possible, keep hand sanitizer and facial tissues available for residents to avoid any possible spread of the virus.
Instruct front desk staff to have access to a supply of face coverings to prevent and protect against contamination.
Elevators and Stairs:
Two of the areas that can easily be overlooked but are extremely important to have cleaned regularly are any elevators or stairways in your building. Some of the first surfaces residents touch when they’re coming or going are elevator buttons and stairway railings.
Make sure to thoroughly disinfect all buttons on the elevator as well as all of the stair rails (and doors leading to stairwells). Don’t forget to wipe down the call buttons on each floor of the building as well.
Mail and package delivery show no signs of slowing, and, as people leave their homes less, online purchasing and delivery is increasing dramatically. Since many residents will be using the mail room and collecting packages, it’s important to make sure both the mailroom and package pickup areas are properly disinfected.
Wipe down the fronts of all mailboxes regularly throughout the day, especially after mail delivery. If staff are handling any delivered packages, ensure that they wash their hands before and after touching the package to prevent any germ transfer.
If the residences in your community don’t have in-unit washers and dryers and you have onsite laundry facilities, then be sure the rooms are properly cleaned, paying special attention the handles and dials on both the washers and dryers, as well as the lint screen on the dryer.
If there is more than one washer and dryer, make sure that there is clear delineation of 6 feet on the ground using tape or signs to ensure residents don’t stand to closely while putting their laundry in the washer or dryer.
To avoid crowding, post the times when the laundry room will be cleaned and stick to the schedule, so residents know not to use this amenity during that time. Additionally, limit the room capacity and post the new capacity in a highly visible location in the room.
This is one of the community amenities that may require cleaning residents’ vehicles as well as the area. Residents choosing to use valet during this time need to be aware that attendants will be wiping down vehicle handles, steering wheels and gear shifts with disinfecting wipes to ensure no contaminants make it in or out of the building via a vehicle.
Attendants should wear face coverings and try to wash or sanitize hands frequently or wear disposable gloves that are changed in between vehicles.Don’t forget to have valet attendants wipe down the keys when they receive them and before they give them back to the vehicle’s owner.
Making sure all of the available common areas are sanitized for residents is just part of the cleaning process. Be sure that all of the staff facilities are disinfected at the same level as all other parts of the property. After all, whatever the staff comes into contact with there goes with them to other, more public-facing areas of the property.
Make certain that the break room countertops, tables, cupboards and chairs are thoroughly cleaned just before and after meal times to avoid any cross contamination and ask staff to be diligent about cleaning up after themselves, including washing any dishes that they dirty, before returning to work.
If your property uses a biometric timeclock to record employees’ time in and out, ensure that it is regularly sanitized. Encourage staff to wipe the reader down with a sanitizing wipe or alcohol pad before and after they place their finger on the reader.
Clean any staff desk phones, computers, keyboards and monitors since they come into regular contact with staff hands.
Each community is different, and you may have several other areas not mentioned here that also require daily sanitizing. Imagine any areas that residents and staff may come into contact with and make sure they are included in the list of places to scrub. Cleaning these common areas regularly (at least 3 times a day) with disinfectant will help ensure that staff and residents all remain safe and healthy while living in your community.
Want more guidelines on how to keep your community safe and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak? Download our full Operational Guidelines here.
This article is a compilation of proposed operational guidelines and procedures for possible use, after consultation with your own attorney, in connection with the management of residential communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article is not intended to and must not be construed as or relied upon as, providing professional, medical or legal advice of any kind on any issue. The guidelines may change from time to time as federal, state, or local authorities and healthcare organizations issue new and/or revised directives.