What Landlords and Tenants Should Know About COVID-19

There's a lot of talk about the COVID-19 outbreaks, with reactions that vary a lot. The plain fact is that there is a concern about this virus spreading rapidly and infecting large numbers of people. Here is what Landlords and Renters should know about COVID-19.

  • Friday, March 6, 2020

  Matt Angerer

  Tips   Health   Coronavirus   

There's a lot of talk about the COVID-19 outbreaks, with reactions that vary a lot. The plain fact is that there is a concern about this virus spreading rapidly and infecting large numbers of people.

Here are some things you should know about the virus:

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. The symptoms range from mild to life threatening, and include:

  • A fever of above 100.4 F
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath

In severe cases, people have required hospital care and assisted breathing using a ventilator. However, for others, the disease can be indistinguishable from a bad cold or a mild case of flu; however, it does tend to last longer than a cold. The vast majority of infected people will recover, and most do not need medical care. About one in six do need intensive medical care. Some people may be infected but show no symptoms.

Who is at Most Risk of Catching It?

Those at most risk of infection are people who have been to an area where there is an outbreak (current concerns are China, Italy, Korea, and Japan, although there is a growing cluster in Washington State) or who have been in contact with somebody who has been to an area with an outbreak. It's worth stressing that most people are experiencing only mild problems.

The risk of severe illness is higher for:

  • People over 65, with an overall increase in risk as you get older
  • Men.
  • People with certain health conditions, specifically cardiovascular disease, diabetes, preexisting respiratory disease and hypertension.

There's also early indications that smoking may increase risk, and that this may be why it is causing severe illness in more men than women. Healthcare workers are also at very high risk due to their higher chance of exposure. Children appear to be at low risk of illness and often seem to be asymptomatic.

How Can You Avoid Being Infected?

What most people want to know is how they can avoid catching this particular coronavirus (as a note, there are a number of other coronaviruses, most of which are, well, common colds). While there are no guarantees, the following can help:

  • Avoid travel to a place where there is an outbreak.
  • Wash your hands frequently in soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It does not matter what kind of soap you use. Hand sanitizer works well if soap and water are not available. You should wash your hands after touching another person, after being out in public and before bed as well as the normal after using the toilet, before eating, and before preparing food.
  • Avoid shaking hands or other physical contact with people not in your household.
  • Try your best to avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth.
  • Disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched. Use a disinfectant wipe on anything you share with others, such as gym equipment or the tray table on an airplane.
  • Stay home as much as possible if sick.

The CDC does not recommend buying masks to protect yourself from the disease; in fact people doing so has caused a shortage of masks for people who actually need them, such as people with allergies. Masks will not stop you from getting sick. However, if you are sick and have to go outside, a mask can help keep you from spreading it to others.

If there is an outbreak, it may be recommended that you work from home and avoid large gatherings, and schools may be closed. Conferences and sporting events may be canceled. However, if you are in most of the US as of the time of writing (early March 2020), then there is no need to take extreme measures. Your chances of getting COVID-19 are way lower than your chances of getting the flu. These precautions will work against that too.

What Should you Do If you Think you Have COVID-19?

As of right now, COVID-19 should only be suspected if you have the listed symptoms and have been in contact with somebody who traveled from an area with an outbreak or somebody who is known to have it. Mild cases may, of course, be mistaken for a more common respiratory virus.

If you suspect you have COVID-19, you should call a healthcare provider and not go to your doctor's office or urgent care. The CDC is recommending that people call in, and if you do have to go to be tested precautions will be taken.

You should stay at home completely until fully recovered. You should order in groceries, not go to work or school, etc. If you must go outside, wear a mask. if possible, use a separate bathroom and isolate yourself from other people in your home.

Currently, there's no vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19. Work is being done to test a number of candidate antiviral drugs. Tamiflu will not help. Nor will getting the flu shot (although you still should, as flu season can run late and if fewer people get the flu there are more resources to 

What Should Landlords Do?

As a landlord, you might be rightly concerned about an outbreak sweeping through your building. There are a few things you can do. They include being generous with sick leave to your employees, putting off routine maintenance so workers aren't exposed, and if you don't already have a way to pay rent online, now is the time to change that.

By accepting rent payments online, you minimize the infection risk of people coming to your office and handing around pieces of paper...although the virus doesn't seem to stay long on surfaces, accepting a check or, worse, cash can be a risk. If you don't already have good property management software that allows you to accept rent without any of that hassle, now is the time to talk to Vertical Rent. Contact us to find out about our property management software and how it can help you accept rent in a more convenient and safer way.


This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice or other institution.

About the author

Matt Angerer is the Founder and President of VerticalRent. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics that help Landlords, Property Managers, and Renters across America. He is particularly interested in helping renters understand their local marketplace, pick the best places to live, and find an awesome roommate. Since 2011, VerticalRent has grown to service over 100,000 landlords and renters across America. 

Read more articles from Matt Angerer

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