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How Property Managers Can Prepare for COVID-19, and Whatever Threat Comes Next

Employers around the world are scrambling to plan for a COVID-19 pandemic, imagining how operations might continue if their employees are suddenly stuck at home and forced to work remotely. Those employees, in turn, are stocking up on supplies — food, water and toilet paper — needed to spend weeks in relative isolation. Property managers face the unique challenge of supporting both employees and residents preparing for the worst. What happens, in a pandemic scenario, if a self-quarantined tenant faces an emergency that threatens their safety and major property damage (think gas leaks or a broken water pipe). How do property managers respond without putting their employees in imminent danger? Each company will need to develop emergency plans in line with their unique workforce and property portfolio, but there is some general advice (in line with CDC and OSHA guidance) that can be helpful regardless of your size and specific challenges. ●      Determine how you will handle service requests for residents who have tested positive for the virus and are self quarantined at home. ●      Ensure that you have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), on hand and that your employees understand the proper protocol for reducing the chances of contracting the virus. (Be aware that for employees who feel there is an “imminent danger” of contracting the illness, per OSHA, that employee may decline to perform services.) ●      Develop a plan for ensuring that common areas that may have been contaminated by the virus are appropriately cleaned. ●      Encourage sick employees to st......
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Don’t let compliance training curb property management’s ‘can do’ culture

In the face of more compliance risks in 2019 and 2020, it's imperative that companies combine training on what their employees and supervisors can't do, with what they can. Keeping your compliance training current can be a struggle. With states and localities passing new laws on sexual harassment and fair housing every few months, it’s no wonder that property managers often overlook some of the most important lessons they can pass on to employees.  It’s an understandable predicament. Property management companies are already struggling to squeeze training time into the busy schedules of their employees. And it’s no longer sufficient to focus only on federal housing and employment rules.  States and local governments are stepping in with their own legislation on issues like sexual harassment, fair housing, rent control and marijuana, creating an increasingly fragmented regulatory landscape that only complicates the learning process for those working in the property sector. In the past year for instance, three states — New York, Connecticut and Illinois, have passed significant new sexual harassment legislation that reduces the threshold for illegal behavior and increases employer liability.  In this context, executives are well-advised to hew to more restrictive procedures to offset any potential for mistakes in record-keeping and interactions with residents. That’s especially true given other trends.  We surveyed property management executives and found an increase in “drive-by” litigation on minor issues, as well as residents aggressively researching to see what improvements or remedies they may be entitled to. This helps explain the increase in trainers and training ......
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