Landlords of commercial spaces have both a legal and a moral obligation to inform tenants of any potential health risks related to the rental space and to take necessary action to ensure the building does not pose a threat to tenant safety.
The Duty of Care requires a landlord to maintain common areas in a reasonably safe condition and means that a landlord can be liable if he or she is found negligent in maintaining these common areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced new risks for individuals occupying shared indoor spaces, such as offices and other commercial buildings. The transmission potential of the highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus through common surfaces and shared air means that commercial tenants could face a serious health risk simply by entering a building—particularly without wearing a mask or face covering.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a set of recommendations for protecting the health and safety of commercial building occupants. These guidelines should be followed by landlords, property managers and business owners to limit the spread of COVID-19 within their buildings.
Here are 10 of the most important recommendations:
- Complete a hazard assessment of the building and identify potential risks, including risks associated with COVID-19 transmission.
- Before re-occupying an office building that has been vacant, ensure that it is ready for occupancy by checking for hazards such as mold and pests.
- Test ventilation systems in the facility to make sure they are working properly. This is especially true for building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that have been shut down or on setback for an extended period of time.
- Increase natural ventilation and circulation by opening doors and windows whenever possible.
- Adjust seating or workstations to ensure employees are able to stay at least 6 feet apart while conducting business. If distancing is not an option, install transparent shields to provide a buffer between employees, customers and visitors.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly.
- Whenever possible, replace high-touch or communal items with disposable alternatives.
- Require daily health screenings, such as temperature checks, and ask employees or customers who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to stay at home.
- Consult with an HVAC professional to improve the building’s ventilation.
- Install portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to remove pathogens and particles from the air.
Life Balance Technologies helps hospitals and other companies easily analyze air quality conditions and effectively manage their HVAC systems. By streamlining the process for compliance, auditing, and reporting, we help reduce costs and save lives.