Please invest the time to read - this is not another "wash your hands" email.

We are far beyond that.
To our valued clientele, referral partners, and industry partners:

We want to affirm that as people understandably scramble to protect themselves, their properties and businesses from potential contamination after the arrival of the coronavirus, Bornstein Law is not going on a hiatus. To the contrary, we are hyper-focused on answering questions and helping rental housing providers devise guidelines for this evolving situation.

Aside from health concerns, rest assured there will be a ripple effect on the rental housing industry as cities have enacted eviction moratoriums or are contemplating them. While many landlords will argue they are being asked to shoulder a disproportionate amount of the financial burden in a public health crisis, these voices will be drowned out in the short-run.  

The outbreak is also expected to create a bottleneck in an already burdened court system, but we are here to help you weather the storm. Below are some actionable steps you can take to manage and mitigate the concerns, cauterize risk and remidiate the situation in the eventuality a tenant contracts the virus.

Before we dive into this, we ask you to please share this email throughout your social networks by clicking on the button below, so that we can collectively install calm. We are not just fighting the coronavirus, we are fighting fear. Fear is more insidious, but it can be overcome through trustworthy information.  
When residents are well and no signs of coronavirus are detected, there are some precautions that can be taken and considerations to be kept in mind.
A forthright dialogue is in order.
We recommend communicating with tenants the best practices in sanitation and hygiene, such as washing hands and disinfecting often-touched surfaces in the rental unit. Landlords and property managers are encouraged to liberally post educational materials in the building, such as identifying certain symptoms that may necessitate further medical attention and possible testing for COVID-19.

Multiply these efforts with the most vulnerable among us.
Educational outreach should be amplified for elderly tenants, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions or those who enjoy protected status under local rent control ordinances. 

Remain compliant with fair housing laws.
Because of privacy and fair housing laws, some discretion in your messaging should be used. For example, it would be inappropriate to ask tenants where they recently traveled, or if they have been exposed to anyone at high risk. We can foresee hysteria easily leading to housing discrimination when misinformed owners single out residents of a certain ethnicity who are lumped into a group that is pre-conceived to contract the virus and be harassed. 

Your right to address concerns over a pandemic ends where the tenant's privacy begins.
Bornstein Law has noted in several venues that a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment is implied in every California lease and has admonished inquisitive landlords and property managers to resist the temptation to snoop or just show up without proper notice. At any rate, it is considered a trespass to enter rented premises (without proper notice) unless there is an emergency, for instance a fire or serious water leak. This tutelage remains unchanged - a public health concern does not give owners a license to violate a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment by entering without 24 hours written notice. Further entries, even with notice, can never be used to harass a tenant. There is nothing prohibiting owners or their agents, however, from cleaning common areas at their volition without alerting residents.

Use some elbow grease, but be smart.
Rather than relying solely on residents to contain the spread of coronavirus, owners should proactively disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, desks, handrails and other items that invisible respiratory droplets can land on. The CDC advises any cleaning agents should contain at least a 70% alcohol solution, and note diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface, with some caveats - follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation, and ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Household bleach should never be mixed with ammonia or any other cleanser. These disinfectant measures should not be a one-time spring cleaning exercise - intermittent efforts should be made to continually wipe down surfaces in common areas.
When a resident is suspected of, or has tested positive for coronavirus, here’s our suggested protocol for an enlarged situation.
Rely on people who know science.
When coronavirus has been detected in a rental unit, the first and most compelling course of action is to call local public health officials to seek guidance in how to handle it.

Ask the infected tenant to voluntarily place themselves in a hospital facility, or at a bare minimum, self-isolate themselves.
For someone who exhibited symptoms or has tested positive, the most prudent course of action is to admit themselves into a medical facility. We still don't know, yet, though, if the health care system can accommodate an influx of patients. In Sunday's press conference , New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says a serious concern for his state (and, by extention, ours) is that the number of infected people can severely tax the resources of hospitals. Alternatively, a resident who tests positive for the virus can ideally self-isolate themselves in the rental unit. Asking someone to sever ties with the rest of the world, of course, is a request hard to swallow, but hopefully heeded. Tenants who are infected should be told that in the interest of transparency, other residents will be notified that someone in the building has tested positive; however, the name of the inflicted tenant shall remain anonymous.

Notify other residents coronavirus has been detected in their building.
You do not want to incite panic, but residents should be aware that the virus has been identified within their close quarters and that even more vigilant measures should be taken. Continued and increased education at this point is advisable. The identity of the infected tenant should not be divulged - you do not want to stigmatize them or risk a potential lawsuit for making them a pariah. In case you were wondering, HIPPA, along with California's more restrictive Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) only applies to medical providers and other "covered entities," but we have always maintained that confidential information of tenants should never be shared, and we do not break precedent.

Biohazard remediation
When the novel virus becomes an unwelcome guest in any of your rental units, a "deep cleaning" should be conducted. On its page regarding environmental cleaning and disinfection on a large scale , the CDC offers a variety of recommendations and you are urged to follow them. However, obtaining the necessary equipment and protective gear may prove to be impractical for many housing providers, especially if there are many units. It may make sense in some cases to consider outsourcing this herculean task to licensed contractors that have the necessary safety apparatus, cleaning products, and familiarity with health regulations. 
This is a very fluid situation, and we’ll give you an email update in a couple days. We ordinarily do not like to besiege people with emails, but these are not ordinary times.

We will reserve our commentary on eviction moratoriums until the State chimes in shortly and likewise, will pause to talk about court closures until all of their policies trickle in. Suffice it to say that if you have an unlawful detainer action in progress, it will continue unabated in the immediate future.

Please stay safe but take a deep breath, stay informed and remain calm.