The property I live in is for sale and someone in my household is immuno-compromised, elderly and considered to be in a high-risk category for contracting COVID-19. Do I have to allow people in my home?
I am glad to see that you are asking questions that keep the health and safety of yourself and others top of mind.
If you currently own the property that is for sale, you decide if or who can have access to it and when. As always, health and safety are important considerations.
Brokerages and salespeople have been advised to follow the instruction and guidance from government medical authorities to establish safety protocols for property showings – and communicating them to buyers. The protocols put in place are established by the seller/property owner and their listing brokerage and salesperson. While protocols may differ from property to property, they are all to adhere to requirements set by provincial authorities.
I recommend you speak with your salesperson early in the process if you or someone in your home has a compromised immune system, has recently returned from traveling, or is considered to be at high-risk of contracting COVID-19. It is important to maintain open dialogue regarding your circumstances and that of those occupying the residence. Situations involving vulnerable persons require special care.
Now, if you and your family are tenants of a rented property, be aware that showings are permitted provided that you are given notice in compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006. You should speak with the property manager or owner/seller as soon as possible to share your concerns and provide them with any requests you would like considered as part of the showing protocols. Communication is the key to managing this difficult situation.
When access to the property is required, there are some things that residents can do to help limit the possibility of surface contamination in the home and assist in keeping everyone safe. They include:
- Opening all entrance and closet doors
- Turning on all lights in the home
- Providing hand sanitizer at the entrance to the home
- Wipe down all surfaces that are likely to be touched before and after each visit (doorknobs, handrails, light switch plates and countertops)
- Providing disposable masks and gloves on-site for visitors. This eliminates the risk of people visiting your home in personal protective equipment (PPE) that was previously worn.
- Posting visitor-friendly signage to remind guests to wear the PPE provided and to not touch surfaces or objects in the home (remember to provide a safe place for visitors to dispose of the used PPE, or ask they take it with them and dispose of it responsibly).
Fortunately, many brokerages have ramped up their digital and online services to accommodate the need for physical distancing and offer more contactless marketing, to help reduce traffic to listed properties. By working together, effective measures can be established and implemented to help protect everyone involved in a transaction.
Consult public health information frequently for the most up to date guidance and recommendations from authorities.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email email@example.com.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.