Landlord and Renter Health & Safety in the Age of COVID-19


In these troubling times, COVID-19 is on everybody’s mind. Working from home and social isolation has put everybody on edge, and is even a challenge for homeowners. But for renters and landlords, COVID-19 has brought additional challenges. How do you socially isolate and stay safe when there are many households are in the same building? And if you’re a landlord, how do you collect rent and provide essential services?

We checked with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to see what their official guidelines are for dealing with COVID-19. Here’s how those guidelines apply to tenants and landlords.

Landlords: Delay Unnecessary Work

If you own an apartment building or complex, it’s understandable that you want to take care of your property. Walls need to be painted, floors need to be refinished, and heater and air conditioning maintenance needs to get done. How do you perform these tasks during a pandemic?

In short, you restrict maintenance and work to unoccupied units. This can be an annoyance, but it prevents unnecessary contact with tenants. Moreover, try to focus on tasks that can be done by a single person. If a job requires a team of two, three, or more people, ask yourself if it can wait until we’re all out of lockdown.

Everyone: Wear a Mask if Contact is Unavoidable

Some tasks can’t wait until after the pandemic. Plugged toilets need to be snaked. Leaky faucets need to be replaced. Broken light switches need to be rewired. In this case, landlords and maintenance technicians will need to work in an occupied unit.

In this case, the best practice is to simply wear a mask. Because COVID-19 is spread primarily by airborne particles, face masks go a long way toward protecting you from the virus. Is it a perfect solution? No. But if you wear a mask, avoid physical contact, and wash your hands frequently, you’ll minimize your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

Tenants: Wash Your Hands When You Get Home

When you live in an apartment building, you’re going to be touching a lot of shared surfaces. Door handles, elevator buttons, and railings all get touched by other tenants. And in addition to airborne spread, COVID-19 can also be spread by contact with surfaces. In fact, we don’t yet know exactly how long the virus can survive on surfaces, and research suggests that the time will depend on the temperature, humidity, and the type of surface.

The best practice is simply to wash your hands every time you get home. This will help prevent you from spreading the virus inside your apartment. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Singing “Happy Birthday” twice is a fun, cheerful way of measuring 20 seconds.

Landlords: Take Payments by Mail

Depending on how you run your business, you might accept payments in person, either yourself or through an office. This can involve contact with dozens of people in a single day. To help prevent the spread of disease, consider accepting rent payments through the mail. This will prevent physical contact, keeping you, your tenants, and your employees safe.

Everyone: Practice Social Distancing

The PHAC’s official guidelines suggest that you should maintain a distance of 2 metres from anyone who does not live in your household. For landlords, this means staying out of your buildings unless there’s an emergency that needs attending to.

For tenants, it can be a bit more of a challenge. You need to move through hallways, entryways, and elevators if you want to get in or out of your apartment. One easy solution is to take the stairs if possible. This won’t just help you avoid the virus. It will also provide you with an opportunity to get a little exercise so you can stay healthy.

Everyone: Clean Regularly

According to PHAC guidelines, everyone is supposed to clean frequently-touched surfaces regularly. This is because of the way COVID-19 spreads. If it gets on your hands, it can’t enter your body. But the second you touch a mucous membrane such as your eyes, nose, or mouth, the virus can get into your system.

This risk increases if you’re surrounded by contaminated surfaces. Imagine that the virus is glitter; it gets everywhere, and if you’re not careful, it’s just a matter of time before it gets into your system.

The PHAC recommends regularly disinfecting the following surfaces: 

  • Toys
  • Toilets
  • Phones
  • Electronics
  • Door handles
  • Bedside tables
  • Television remotes

Will cleaning these surfaces make it 100% certain that you won’t catch COVID-19? Nothing is certain. But it will decrease your risk.

Landlords should also check the PHAC’s guidelines on disinfecting public spaces such as lobbies and elevators. They provide a list of approved hard surface disinfectants that can safely kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Everyone: Look After Your Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t just threaten our physical health. It also poses significant risks to our mental health. Humans are social creatures, and social isolation is just not something we’re built for. Moreover, we need sunlight and exercise to be healthy.

Technology can help with social isolation. Tools like Zoom and Facetime can help us stay in touch with friends and family. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s better than sitting in your apartment alone.

And PHAC has also recognized that we need to get outside. So feel free to go out and walk, run, or ride a bicycle. As long as you wear a mask, and stay 2 metres from other people, you’ll be staying safe while you keep yourself sane.


As we said, there’s no way to remain 100% safe from COVID-19. But if all of us do our part, we can significantly slow the spread of this disease. By following PHAC guidelines, we’ll reduce the load on our healthcare system. This means that everyone, both tenants and landlords, will be safer.


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