The rules and issues around the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve and information changes consistently. Please take note of when our content was written and always go to the sources we’ve provided for the most current guidance.
Living in a higher density setting is a reality for many people, but it can come with concerns when considering the spread of illnesses. Here are some things to consider to keep you, and the people around you, safe.
Understanding how the virus spreads:
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC), coronavirus spreads via droplet contact—this means through infected droplets (generated when a person coughs, sneezes etc.) or on surfaces that have come into contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person. To date, health experts do not believe that coronavirus can be transmitted through airborne transmission.
This means that apartment dwellers should focus on managing direct and indirect droplet contact. Being mindful of droplet contact in common spaces will help you to avoid bringing the virus into your home.
If you live in an apartment, here are some tips from the BC CDC and the Government of British Columbia to help keep you safe and healthy.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Frequently wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Practice physical distancing by keeping 2 meters (6 feet) of space between yourself and others.
- Keep your respiratory droplets to yourself (sneeze into your elbow and dispose of tissues properly).
- If you are well, stay home when possible.
- If you feel sick, stay at home.
If you live in an apartment building and are self-isolating:
- Stay in your unit.
- Avoid common areas and spaces.
- Lean on your support network to deliver needed supplies while respecting physical distancing.
- Keep in touch with friends and family who live outside your household, virtually only.
What else you should know:
Your apartment management or strata may have policies and rules in place to help protect residents and manage the spread of COVID-19. For example, many apartments have shut down multi-purpose rooms and gyms. Ensure you have up-to-date information for your building.
What else you can do:
Stay involved in your community, safely. If you are healthy, you may wish to contact neighbours (make use of the phone and/or internet) to see if they need help. If they do, you can deliver food, medication or other necessities provided you respect the bounds of social and physical distancing.
A good idea way to manage this is by leaving requested supplies outside of a neighbour’s door, moving away a safe distance and calling them to let them know supplies have arrived.
Did you like this? You might like these posts too!
- COVID-19: Three ways to politely tell people to keep their distance
- How to report COVID-19 price gouging
Look through all of our COVID-19 related information on our website.
Where do we fit in?
Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.
About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.
28 thoughts on “COVID-19: tips for apartment residents”
Let’s talk about shared laundry facilities. I’m scared to use the laundry room but my laundry is piling up. This is a small room with only 2 washer & 2 driers for a 3 floor bldg.
Hi Wendy, you may want to use disinfectant wipes or paper towels to avoid touching frequently touched surfaces in the laundry room with your bare hands. More information on preventing the spread of COVID-19 can be found on the website of the BC Centre for Disease Control.
Wear plastic/rubber gloves and a face mask while using the equipment. Presort laundry at home. Avoid touching or wipe down surfaces in the room.
My condo complex has an emergency preparedness committee doing now daily disinfecting of common surfaces, elevators, mailboxes, door handles, railings, garbage collection areas etc. All social groups are cancelled. We are acting AS IF … as if we all might be exposed or carrying the virus. If we need to meet it is outside at 6 feet apart. Doing what we can to keep ourselves and our neighbours as safe as we can.
Hello Debs, thank you for your response! It sounds like your condo complex is taking necessary precautionary measures to prevent the spread. These are all great ideas and set good examples for maintaining sanitary conditions for occupants.
how long will this visis live if it gets on your body or hair ; jim cruch
Hi Jim, currently it is not certain how long COVID-19 survives on surfaces. More information on the spread and prevention of the virus can be found on the Government of Canada’s website here and the BC Centre of Disease Control’s website here.
Very good, thanks. I have read and follow a lot more for weeks. I’m a believer in keeping updated all the time as one never knows what new and additional info and tips come up on the internet and news.
My apartment manager goes out every day.
I am in a seniors building. I’m not going near him. I put my rent through the mail slot and didn’t buy quarters from him for laundry.
I am in an apartment, most area’s are closed off.
My worry is the laundry rooms. Afraid to do my laundry but will soon.. I will be taking wipes and will wear gloves, is that enough.
It all I can think of.
Hi Margaret, those are great ideas! More information on preventing the spread of COVID-19 can be found on the website of the BC Centre for Disease Control.
There are currently renovations happening in my apartment building, which is owned by BC Housing in Revelstoke. The contractors are from Vancouver and Vernon, and travel back and forth for various reasons. Other trades also come from out of town. There is also cardboard on the hallway carpets to protect them during renos – but it has been there for months and I have asked it be taken up and the building sanitized properly, but nothing has been done. The elevator also has cardboard taped all around it. I cant see how they can clean properly.
I also worried about how well the building is being cleaned…i do not see cleaners here every day, yet they are supposed to be.
Im immunocomprimised, and stay in my apartment as much as i can and immediately wash my hands upon returning if i have to go out.
Should these renos be called off right now? Any advice?
Hi Keri, the organization who may be able to help you with this is the Residential Tenancy Branch. They are responsible for tenant and landlord laws and may be able to step in if the laws are being broken. You can get in touch with them here.
For tall high rises, residents need to use the elevators …. even 2 per ride is not 3 feet apart in a closed space.
Stair cases are spirals to get up or down and make one nauseous after just one trip.
my landlord has ordered us to wear gloves at all time in common areas and no visitors I wash my hands on a regular basis are these suggestions or rules I must follow.
I protect my self very well washing distancing and using wipes in stead of gloves I cant have my lady friend over to my home is this a rights violation
Hi Philip, thanks for your question. That sounds like a difficult situation for you. We can’t give you legal advice so please understand that’s not what we are doing here but I don’t believe that your landlord can order you to wear gloves. I’m not sure about the no visitors rule. Here are a few avenues to consider – perhaps contact the Residential Tenancies Office, they have lots of information for renters. They also have an online dispute resolution tool that you may want to pursue. Here is their website address: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies. If you’re interested, Access Pro Bono also has a Lawyer Referral Service which can provide you with a free 30 minute legal consultation.
My apartment building has 19 units ..there are 6 to 8 people who are in each other’s apartment every day sometimes night too ..there is absolutely no room for social distancing ..so they are in and out to common areas ..is that legal ..they also go in and out of the building with no distancing ..every day..I am at very high risk and am very frightened ..what can I do ?
Hi M, that sounds like a frustrating and scary situation. So you’re aware, this isn’t an area we have any authority over, but there are some things you can do to keep yourself safe. Physical distancing (keeping 2 metres between yourself and others) significantly reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19, and if you pair that with good hand hygiene and not touching your face while you’re out and about, that will help reduce the risk of contraction in any common areas that might be contaminated. You can also to check the BC CDC and government websites for more COVID-19 prevention tips. I imagine this wasn’t the answer you were looking for, but I hope this helps!
My building managers keep propping our fire doors open. I have written them to explain this is not ok, is there anyone I can reach out to?
I get that they want to reduce contact points etc but fire doors remain closed for a reason!
Hi Sidonie, I think it’s probably in your best interests to try and work the issue through with the building managers (which it looks like you’ve started!). If they don’t get back to you, or the situation isn’t resolved, it might be worth looking into whether you can escalate the issue to anyone else in the company that manages your building. You could also try reaching out to you municipality/city bylaw officers.
There are more studies coming out that confirm air transmission of the virus by aerosol particles is possible. What does this mean for use of common hallways and stairwells? I have a dog and must use common space to take her outside to do her business numerous times each day. Should I be worried?
Hi Sylvia, while it’s possible this might change, most reputable sources like the BC CDC don’t currently recognize airborne transmission as a way that COVID-19 can spread. To keep yourself safe from potential for droplet content (the way we know COVID-19 does spread) while you’re in common areas, it’s important to keep physical distancing, avoid touching your face and practice good hand hygiene. You can also find more information about COVID-19 transmission on the BC CDC’s website. I hope this helps!
are tenants allowed to have a visitor within their
apt.? i am getting conflicting info
Hi Sandy, so you’re aware, this isn’t an area we have any authority over but you may want to contact your building manager for more information. You may also contact the Residential Tenancies Office. They have lots of information for renters. Here is their website address: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies
I use to work as courier delivering parcel to many places every day. I worry to have accidentally contact an infected persons who walk through the same narrow corridor linking units of apartment that I pass by while doing delivery. Is that against the rule of door step concept in courier service if I call every consignee to get down of their high rise apartment i order to get their parcel?
Hi David, thank you for reaching out to us. I can’t say I’m familiar with the rules surrounding the doorstep delivery concept, but I would suggest speaking to your employer if you have concerns regarding your safety while delivering parcels to apartments.
Wiping down laundry room washers and dryers as well as elevators with bleach based disinfectants is great, but this is only effective if done frequently after every visit, because it takes one infected person to contaminate any area again!
The big problem is that we do not know who is COVID-19 asymptomatic who can still spread this deadly disease.