The COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark on every segment of the commercial real estate industry, and property management is no exception. Commercial property owners in Northeast Ohio have been tasked with protecting their investment while simultaneously serving their tenants’ best interests and needs—during a period of great uncertainty and rapid change, no less.
From rent deferrals and tenant relief to coordinating sanitization efforts and adjusting to fully remote business operations, property managers have certainly had their work cut out for them this year. They have also played a vital role in maintaining the strength of the commercial real estate industry.
There is no telling how long COVID-19 safety considerations will remain a part of our “new normal,” but as we head into 2021 at least one thing is clear: the pandemic has reshaped many aspects of property management, and planning for these new considerations is the key to staying afloat in these uncertain times.
Demand for Health & Safety Planning
The decision to allow employees to return to the physical workplace is a complex one, and we have witnessed a wide range of business responses. While a handful of companies have committed to remote work for the foreseeable future, most are eager to return to a collaborative environment.
When reopening the workplace, it is important to have a thorough health and safety plan in place that includes both sanitization and behavioral guidelines (social distancing, mask-wearing, etc). While tenants are largely responsible for creating operational plans for their own employees, it falls to the property owner or manager to implement a health and safety plan for the property as a whole.
- Coordinating both daily sanitization efforts and as-needed deep cleaning with the tenants, maintenance crew, and other subcontractors
- Posting COVID-19 capacity limitations in common spaces such as lobbies, restrooms, and elevators
- Making the decision to keep certain building amenities (gyms, cafeterias, lounges, etc.) open or closed
- Maintaining and/or improving building ventilation systems
- Coordinating COVID-19 screening plans with the tenant (such as a screening script and/or temperature monitoring for employees, clients, and visitors)
- Preparing a COVID-19 response plan in the event that someone in the building receives a positive test result
A mis-handling of these health and safety regulations could create genuine risk for employees, customers, visitors, building maintenance staff, and other subcontractors who work onsite.
Shift to Digital Communications
Property managers and landlords in Northeast Ohio have been forced to shift most (if not all) of their communications with tenants, vendors, and subcontractors to remote operations. Fewer face-to-face meetings with the tenant and walkthroughs of the property may lead to concerns regarding building maintenance and day-to-day operations.
For property managers, the bar has been raised in terms of keeping subcontractors engaged and tenant relationships positive. Video meetings may be preferable over phone calls and email to ensure all tenant needs are being properly addressed and met.
Strong Financial Management Is Key
There is no denying that many businesses have been hit hard this year, particularly small businesses. In some cases this financial strain has been passed onto the landlord via requests for rent reductions or deferrals. Some commercial property owners have felt the burden of increased vacancy rates due to early lease terminations or evictions.
As we move into 2021, preparing a strong financial management plan is key. This includes budgeting for tenant improvements related to health and safety, reducing operating costs, capital planning, uncovering new opportunities for growth and profitability, and detailed financial reporting to wrap up this year.
Managing a commercial property has become more complex than ever. Cushman & Wakefield | CRESCO Real Estate offers a complete suite of property management solutions and services designed to support your investment goals in Northeast Ohio.
Contact us at 216.520.1200 or by filling out our contact form for more information.
To learn more about how CRESCO, Greater Cleveland’s leading commercial real estate company, can help you with your property needs, contact us at 216.520.1200, or fill out the form below. A CRESCO professional will contact you shortly.