We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, an urgent situation that’s requiring all of us to dramatically alter the way we live and work. The Ontario government has declared a state of emergency, and recreation centres, libraries, private schools, daycares, churches, bars and restaurants have been closed down. The federal government has announced Canada is closing its border to most foreign travellers.
It’s all aimed at doing whatever it takes to protect our citizens.
Landlords have a major role to play as well in these widespread efforts to contain COVID-19.
Rental property owners have a legal duty of care to tenants. With many people now working from home, it’s more critical than ever that landlords take the utmost care to maintain safe, clean rental units and residential properties.
That means more frequent cleaning of areas where lots of people converge, including lobbies and laundry rooms, with disinfectant products. Placing alcohol-based hand sanitizers in common areas is also a smart idea.
Rental property owners should also keep tenants well-apprised and informed of the latest coronavirus developments. Notices should be posted at building entrances, on tenant notification boards and in common areas providing the latest updates on the situation, including guidance from local public health authorities. If property owners have a list containing the email addresses of all their tenants, they should be sending regular updates via email as well.
If there is a presumed or confirmed case of COVID-19 in any rental property, local public health authorities should be immediately notified, and any medical directions they provide should be followed diligently. But due to privacy laws, landlords should not identify by name anyone in the building who’s been infected to other tenants. Landlord BC, in fact, says only general information should be shared, such as “there is a confirmed case on the second floor” to protect the privacy of the affected individual. It’s the role of public health authorities to reach out to any other tenants in the building who may have come into contact with the infected person.
And of course, landlords and tenants alike should follow these instructions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid shaking hands and instead use another form of greeting/acknowledgment
- Stay home if you’re sick
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with tissues or your arm
- Dispose of any used tissues immediately, and wash your hands
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Avoid travelling abroad
- Avoid visiting hospitals or long-term care facilities if you’re unwell
- If you’re in Toronto or Ottawa, and you’ve travelled outside of Canada, including the United States, self-isolate and avoid contact with others for 14 days after arriving back in the city