April 6, 2020
By Christina Martin and Shaun Comer, Edge Property Services Group
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, buildings in all property classes are experiencing reduced usage or closures. With this drastic reduction in occupancy, landlords and owners should take proactive measures to protect their assets, collect income, mitigate expenses and prepare for the eventual reopening of their commercial office, warehouse and retail properties. Throughout this fluid and rapidly-changing situation, Edge Property Services Group continues to monitor changing conditions and has implemented the following measures and offers this guidance.
• HVAC schedules and occupancy setpoints have been adjusted throughout the Edge-managed assets as an energy-savings measure. This also reduces unnecessary wear and tear of building equipment.
• Preventative maintenance and scheduled building repairs are ramping up to take advantage of the reduced occupancy of the buildings. Spring maintenance work on Variable Air Volume (VAV) boxes, perimeter convector units and cooling towers are all being conducted during normal business hours. This saves costly overtime expenses, as this work would normally have been scheduled after-hours or on weekends.
• Edge Property Services Group has assumed certain third-party preventative maintenance agreements to provide a more cost-effective solution to clients with work completed in-house.
• The working hours for certain engineering teams have changed at properties deemed “high risk” in order to properly oversee comprehensive cleaning and sterilization efforts. This practice also limits the risk of exposure to Edge team members who work in facilities exhibiting a high number of ill patients during regular business hours.
• Janitorial, trash removal and other daily maintenance operations have also been significantly reduced or suspended in response to the lower volume of employees.
Open and honest communication is critical during these challenging times. For those tenants requesting rent relief or abatement, it is important for landlords and owners to develop a strategy that provides consistency and fairness across the board, with an emphasis on owner tolerance. Long-term rent abatement is not recommended with a solution including the implementation of a measured payment plan. Prior to considering any rent relief, a tenant must provide what other resources they have exhausted because the federal government has passed economic stimulus plans to help in this environment.
Tenants, in turn, are encouraged to remain in constant contact with their landlords to alert them of their current usage of the buildings, as well as reporting any possible contamination issues.
Christina Martin is director of property management and Shaun Comer is director of engineering of the Edge Property Services Group, headquartered in Rockville, MD.
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Paul Bubny