BTR News Build to Rent (BTR)

Coronavirus precautions and preparations for Build to Rent providers

The impact of the coronavirus in the UK is unknown. Be prepared for a worst-case scenario to protect your residents and staff.

Updated: 18 March 2020

The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) dominates the headlines with a new update every day. A respiratory disease, it spreads between people who are in close contact with one another, so apartment buildings and communal spaces pose a potential risk of spreading the virus to other residents – also known as community spread.

Build to Rent (BTR) management within schemes play a major role in helping residents understand the advice and best practice to protect themselves, their neighbours and staff within developments.

There are several ways BTR developments can inform residents on the guidelines outlined by the NHS:

  • Send an email to all tenants with a link to the NHS guidance.
  • Print the guidance and deliver it to each flat.
  • Print guidance (or create a useful infographic) and display it around the building and in shared areas – communal lounges, bars, gyms and other shared spaces.
  • Use technology to communicate messages – whether that’s via an online platform, forum or WhatsApp group. Technology is a powerful tool and an important strategy to adopt during this time.

What’s your plan?

It’s important that residents are aware of the steps BTR suppliers are taking to help protect them from COVID-19. Be open with the plans and ensure residents know how they should report any issues that may arise.

Education and communication are key.

It may also be a good idea to temporarily stop or limit social gatherings and activities within the building or begin to make plans to do so in line with the Government’s advice.

We’re unaware of how severe the impact of the coronavirus will be in the UK. BTR providers should – in advance – consider how they would deal with a worst-case scenario. The Government has now advised that all people who can work from home should, so you should consider the impact on supplies – as supply chains are likely to be affected. Plan ahead with getting the relevant supplies you need, such as cleaning products.

Some BTR providers have put advice on their website, such as Folio London who provide clear instructions to residents who have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating. See their advice here.

“The wellbeing of residents and staff across our build to rent sites is imperative. Our experienced onsite teams are keeping up to date with guidance from the Government and Public Health England to ensure best practice is exercised in communal spaces to mitigate risk.

“At a time such as this, we are encouraging our communities to be thoughtful neighbours and consider the wellbeing of both themselves and those around them.”

Lesley Roberts, Partner at Allsop

Limit the possibility of spreading the coronavirus

BTR developments should take steps to limit the possibility of spreading COVID-19, not to mention making their residents and staff feel safe. You should take steps – daily – to clean and disinfect high-traffic areas and surfaces like front-door handles, lifts and lift buttons and shared spaces such as gyms and lounges.

You can provide hand sanitiser around the building, which is useful as supplies are low. You can also post signs encouraging residents to be vigilant about keeping their flats disinfected.

Ensure procedures are in place

It’s important to ensure you have procedures in place should any confirmed coronavirus cases arise – and that this is communicated to both residents and staff, in multiple languages.

Consider how you will manage and care for anyone who is self isolating. Consider a support package which includes regular communication, such as a FaceTime buddy to help them feel less isolated, a food and mail delivery process, and a digital package that will help residents stay occupied – such as free movies, video games or online learning courses.

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