Pandemic Best Practices for Property Owners, Managers and Developers

April 03, 2020 Written by Jessica Thesing

As downtown property leaders prepare for the crisis, stabilization and recovery phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, the most important thing we can do for our common health and our collective economic recovery is to follow health advisories for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Preserving our collective health is our primary goal. And it will help us resume the work, payrolls and economic activity vital to downtown Salt Lake City’s future. Below are links and best practices we recently gleaned from commercial real estate leaders.

Protect your stakeholders’ health and safety:

Considerations to promote cleaner air:

  • Disinfect the indoor environment daily. Open windows and ventilate frequently.
  • If possible, use ultraviolet radiation on the cooling coils and drain pans of the air conditioning system.
  • Where possible, identify separate ascending and descending stairways to assist with social distancing. Enhance ventilation in stairwells.
  • Run stand-alone air purifiers to further reduce possible contaminated air and air pollutants brought in by natural ventilation.

Take a long-view on tenant lease, rent options and relief:

  • Often, the key provisions affecting rent abatement in a typical commercial lease are:
    • Interruption of Essential Services.
    • Casualty.
    • Condemnation.
    • Force Majeure.
  • Property owners and occupiers should determine lease provisions’ applicability to the COVID-19 pandemic and key issues such as:
    • Access to the Premises: Is the tenant’s premises available for use?
    • Governmental Action: Has the tenant’s decision not to occupy the space been caused by government action (i.e. curfew or shelter-in-place order)?
    • Essential Services: Is the landlord providing all required services to the tenant (i.e., utilities, HVAC, cleaning, security)?
    • Damage: Has there been damage to the premises?
  • Facilitating a productive dialogue between occupiers and owners around lease provisions, each other’s current circumstances and potential business resolutions will strengthen relationships for a path forward together.

Source: CBRE

Update your emergency management plan and Address:

  • Infectious disease
  • Needs of vulnerable occupants
  • Staff responsible for managing response on property
  • Staff responsible for managing tenant communications
  • Updating off-site contact information for tenants.

Publish information resources to tenants:

    • Create and publish shelter-in-place plans
    • Explain and reiterate enhanced cleaning procedures in the common areas
    • Communicate effectively. Be credible. Express empathy. Promote action. Show respect.

Audiences:Communication Channels:Use Verified Sources:


Your website Tenants Posters Salt Lake County Visitors Elevator, lobby screens Salt Lake City Contractors Telephone and text trees CDC Community Partners Webinars World Health Organization Media Email updates Urban Land Institute

Gather and promote good intel:

Industry leaders are collaborating on webinars and other communications. Stay up-to-date on property leaders’ proactive efforts and responses. Share helpful communications with Downtown Alliance () and we will publish resources to the downtown property community that you can use and share with your employees, customers and tenants.

Stay apprised of local and national financial resources such as:

Additional Resources:


Architect Magazine: How Architecture Firms are Responding to COVID-19

Architectural Digest: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Will Change the Built Environment

ASHRAE: COVID-19 Preparedness Resources

Building Operating Management: Coronavirus Resources for Facilities

CERC: Crisis & Emergency Risk Communications

CIDRAP: COVID-19 Information for Employers, Business

CityLab: Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

Curbed: Design in the age of pandemics

BOMA Canada: Coronavirus Resources

Center for Active Design: 5 Ways to Optimize Buildings for COVID-19 Prevention

Financial Times: How Healthy Buildings Can Help Us Fight Coronavirus

Multi-Housing News: What Property Managers Should Be Doing Right Now

New York Times: Your Building Can Make You Sick or Keep You Well

Next City: Housing in Brief: What Landlords Are Saying About Rent and Evictions During the Outbreak

OSHA: Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

Urban Land Magazine: Confronting COVID-19: Social Distancing, Buildings, and Lessons from Asia

World Health Organization: Getting Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19


Enterprise Community Partners: Maintaining Business Continuity During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Global Wellness Institute: PositivelyWell

New York Times: Flattening the Coronavirus Curve

New York Times: How Long Will Coronavirus Live on Surfaces or in the Air Around You?

PBS NewsHour: How to help others in the COVID-19 crisis

USA Today: 6 things to know if you’re living with someone who has coronavirus, or think you might be

USA Today: Coronavirus reality check: 7 myths about social distancing, busted

U.S. CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019

U.S. CDC: What every American and community can do now to decrease the spread of the coronavirus

Washington Post: As coronavirus spreads, the bill for our public health failures is due

Source: Urban Land Institute