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Guidance for OMCs and their Property Management Agents

At WPM we pride ourselves on setting best practise and redefining industry standards.

The Housing Agency in conjunction with the Society of Chartered Surveyors and IPAV have issued their formal guidance for Owner Management Companies on operating as we move through the COVID19 crisis.

Our MD, Enda Mc Guane and our Head of Property Management, Noel Daly were to the forefront of the development of these standards. This has been confirmed as the official guidance in relation to COVID-19 in multi-unit developments and support and advises all stakeholders such as owner management companies, managing agents and as a tenant.

The points are easy to follow and are fully taking the guidelines set out by our government in best practises at this time.

Managing Agent Guidance

  • Accurate, timely and regular communications with employees, OMC Directors, residents, suppliers and even the media are critical. Make sure you have all available contact information for your staff, residents and suppliers (cell, e-mail, etc.), and develop alternative ways to disseminate information (corporate web sites, app-based notifications, text messaging, etc.).
    • Post up signage – encouraging apartment owners to carry out emergency repairs only. Routine repairs lead to increase contact with owners/occupiers.
    • Encourage contractors to post-cleaning checklist sheets in the common areas showing priority cleaning to door handles, elevator buttons, light switches, ledges, post boxes, handles and handrails. They are doing the work already.
  • Proactively manage OMC budgets and service charge collection to help the OMC maintain good financial health during the crisis.
  • Engage the directors in the process of limiting expenditure where possible to the fixed cost elements of the Budget for the coming year.   
  • Ensure the doors/ fob access systems are working well to facilitate access and egress from the building for residents, deliveries and in the interest of keeping unwelcome visitors out. 
  • Where possible identify venerable or isolated occupants and seek to connect them to external support services.
  • Consider closing common areas that do not support residents’ basic needs, like entertainment rooms.
  • Encourage occupants and staff to practice social distancing
  • Suspend access to houses/apartment for routine maintenance, repairs and inspections. They should only be entered for emergency repairs. Close contact with the occupant should be avoided during any entry of the apartment.
  • Cleaning Requirements. Follow the guidance of the HSE and Govt concerning any additional cleaning of the common areas or apartment/houses as a result of self-quarantine. If either these agencies or the OMC recommends or requires additional cleaning that requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) or is beyond the capability of your team or regular cleaning service, consider hiring a qualified vendor to perform the cleaning.
  • Lifts and Stairs:
    • Consider lift sizes, number of building floors, and daily number of tenants and visitors when placing queuing marks in elevator lobbies to reinforce social distancing.
    • If an elevator cab is not large enough to accommodate 2-metre spacing, consider designating elevators for “up” and “down” use to avoid longer ride times.
    • Consider programming elevators to return to the ground floor for faster loading.
    • To ease elevator traffic and wait times, consider opening stairwells and designate “up” and “down” stairwells.
  • If you do deliver packages, leave them outside the apartment door to avoid close contact with the self-quarantining resident.
  • Support to the Resident. A period of self-quarantine may be stressful for an occupant. You should endeavour to be empathetic and supportive during this challenging time, keeping in mind restrictions on your ability to be in close physical contact with the occupant. Set reasonable expectations with the resident about your ability to provide assistance.
  • Follow Occupational Safety and Health requirements, which impose various duties on the employer to ensure a safe and healthy work environment
  • Maintain ongoing communications with occupants and service providers to inform them of the steps you are taking to clean and sanitize the property and learn how they are addressing the outbreak with their employees and customers
  • Suppliers:
    • Require your suppliers to share their health and safety plans and new protocols.
    • Amend building rules and regulations for construction contractors to incorporate specific COVID-19 requirements, including questionnaires, use of appropriate PPE, etc.
    • Identify back-up suppliers where possible in case of personnel shortages or supply chain interruptions.
    • Supplier staff should be instructed to inform Managing Agents if they know they have been exposed to the virus or are exhibiting symptoms of infection. They should also inform employers if they have a household member with a particular vulnerability to the virus, such as a weakened immune system, that may require them to have more protections from infection. Post signs at entrances instructing essential visitors to not enter if they are sick or if they have had close contact with a person who may have or does have COVID-19.
  • Post signs that tell visitors to limit their movement in the building and their use of common areas.
  • Property management should assess whether an impending service request is essential, and to postpone the service if it is not urgent.
  • Property management should provide advanced notification to the tenant of impending work.
  • Staff carrying out essential work should do so in a separate room if the occupant is home, or keeping a physical distance between the staff and occupant.
  • Encourage occupants to connect with family and friends by phone and/or online and to postpone visits that are not essential.
  • If possible, limit visitor access to a single point of entry in your building/site that staff can easily monitor.