Homeowners and property managers in California have been regularly concerned about making house repairs and other home improvement projects needed amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While it is true that handymen, electricians, and plumbing professionals are considered essential employees in Southern California, most owners and property managers in California are still hesitant to hire someone for repairs and maintenance, due to a plethora of health and safety concerns. For those Southern California property owners who have had no choice but to hire a handyman or general contractor, these essential workers have been a lifesaver for repairs like busted pipes and electrical blowouts.
However, in general, does it even make sense to call a professional amid the pandemic? More importantly, how much are you putting yourself, your family, or your tenants at risk by hiring a general contractor to perform home improvement services? When dealing with renters, can a landlord force them to allow a licensed contractor to enter their units for repairs and maintenance?
Below are the actions to take to handle home maintenance and repairs amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The first question to ask yourself, “Is this really an emergency?” If it’s an emergency situation or significant repair that is needed, make the call. Waiting too long to make the repair will more than likely only make the problem worse.
Some repairs simply can’t be put off. For example, certain leaks in an apartment building can become a disaster for not only one apartment but any apartments below it: or if there’s a problem with the HVAC unit or a major appliance breaks. In these emergency type situations, landlords must call professionals immediately before the situation grows dire. On the other hand, if the repair issue is less urgent, weigh your options and decide if you can afford to wait for a little bit.
Furthermore, landlords and real estate managers still have a responsibility to make repairs within a reasonable time frame, despite the coronavirus. However, the current pandemic has somewhat altered what’s considered fair and sensible in responding to repair requests.
Also, many tenants do not want home-repair workers in their units, given the health crisis. As such, it’s challenging from a legal standpoint to make the tenants allow someone to enter their home. However, the chances of succeeding are more likely if the repair issue is truly an emergency and a danger to other tenants.
Professionals in the industry agree that comfort levels around home repair seem to be rising potentially out of necessity. As social distancing rules are slowly lifting, calls about damaged dishwashers, toilets, faucets, and doors are undeniably increasing. More time at home suggests more wear and tear leading to more repairs and maintenance calls.
Still, until the COVID-19 pandemic dies down, it’s not the best time for a bathroom remodel or for the installation of a new kitchen. Strictly use this time to address any serious repairs that are absolutely necessary.
Those worried about exposure to the COVID or those who are tight on funds due to COVID-19 might be considering a do it yourself home improvement (DIY) approach.
Plumbing and electrical work, for example, are best left to the professionals. This is especially true for landlord and property managers in Southern California. One error can cause a lot more damage and potentially become a legal and financial liability for owners.
What we’re seeing is that families who have been forced to stay at home during the pandemic are breaking things and needing more repairs. For some, they’re learning that they can handle minor repairs on their own. This is especially true for tenants who don’t want to risk someone in their living space, they have learned to manage minor repairs on their own.
Home-repair workers have shifted their business practices amid the COVID-19 pandemic, just like every other industry.
Employees are required to use masks and keep their distance from others inside a home, apartment, or commercial space they’re operating in, Some Southern California companies have provided their workers with additional protective gear, such as gloves and booties.
Before the visit – When scheduling a repair call with contractors, have an open and honest discussion about what precautions the company is taking to limit their exposure as well as limiting their risk of infecting others. Additionally, access the accessibility of the area where the handyman or contractor will be working. Make sure they have clear access to the area with adequate ventilation, if possible. Communicate and coordinate these matters with your tenants if applicable.
During the visit – Try to stay away from the worker. Per CDC guidelines, when it comes to COVID-19 best practices, you should stay at least 6-feet away. If during the visit, you have to get close to the worker make sure you are taking necessary precautions by wearing a mask and gloves. When tipping a worker, try to do it electronically like with a CashApp or PayPal transaction to avoid having to handle cash. If you must absolutely handle cash, put it in an envelope beforehand, and hand the contractor the cash in an envelope with your gloves on.
After the Visit – Make sure you or your tenant clean the area thoroughly. Make sure you use a cleaning supply that actually kills the virus for your protection. Lastly, make sure you wash your hands before you begin cleaning and right after you’re done.
Overall, the principles that the CDC and Southern California officials have been emphasizing; social distancing by staying a minimum of 6 feet away, comprehensive and regular hand-washing, appropriate cleansing of potentially affected surface areas– all apply to home service calls as well.
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