9 things you need to know about COVID-19 and strata living
By gaining a good understanding of COVID-safe best practices, you can help keep your family and neighbours safe.
One in 10 Australians live in apartments, meaning if the right steps aren’t taken to prevent and control COVID-19, our high-density living arrangements pose a significant risk to our heal and the health of those around us.
In this light, we have shared nine things you need to understand when it comes to COVID-19 and strata living.To navigate COVID-19 and strata living, it’s important to consider the following:
- If someone in your strata complex contracts COVID-19, they must isolate immediately
- You should act with care if you live with someone who has been ordered to self-isolate
- If you have contracted COVID-19, consider letting your committee know
- Avoid or reduce your usage of your strata property’s gym/fitness area and swimming pool during the COVID-19 health crisis
- Prioritise your mental health if you need to isolate in your apartment
- Be cautious and considerate when disposing of waste during a COVID-19 outbreak
- Rethink non-urgent renovation and upgrade works during COVID-19 outbreaks
- Add to your cleaning regime, to help stop the spread
- Refer to reliable sources when seeking information about COVID-19
If someone in your strata complex contracts COVID-19, they must isolate immediately
If someone is found to have COVID-19, we’d recommend that the individual immediately self-isolate as per the guidelines provided by the Australian Government.
Take note of the safety measures that have been put in place by your committee and building management staff, as well as public health authorities. To learn what committees should be doing to manage health and safety when it comes to COVID-19 and strata living, click here.
You should act with care if you live with someone who has been ordered to self-isolate
Due to the contagious nature of COVID-19 and the increased likelihood of transmission between household members, we recommend the following for those who are living with someone who has been ordered to self-isolate:
- Minimise all personal contact during the quarantine period, even if that person does not have symptoms
- Stay in separate rooms, as much as possible
- Avoid sharing bathrooms. If there is only one bathroom in the apartment, clean and disinfect the bathroom thoroughly after each use
- Clean and disinfect the kitchen frequently and make sure kitchen utensils and appliances are thoroughly cleaned after each use
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently. Soap breaks down the layer of fat around the virus and leaves it unable to infect you
- Woolworths, Coles and other supermarkets offer doorstep delivery service, which you should consider using
Extra precautions must be taken when it comes to COVID-19 and strata living, to reduce the likelihood of spread.
If you have contracted COVID-19, consider letting your committee know
When it comes it COVID-19 and strata living, it’s always best to be extra cautious. In this light, you might consider letting your committee know if you contract the virus, so that common property areas you used while infectious can be cleaned thoroughly before being used by others. However, you have the right to confidentiality, so your committee should not identify your name or personal details if informing other residents about exposure sites within your complex.
You should not pass through common areas or using common property after being diagnosed with COVID-19, as this may be a breach of by-laws or your building rules by “creating a nuisance or hazard on common property”. You could also be breaking the law under the Public Health Act and could be fined or imprisoned.
Related question from our StrataFAQ community
Q: How should committee meetings be managed for our strata property during COVID-19?
A: In short, avoid the amount of personal and direct interaction. Here are a few general guidance tips for meetings…
Avoid or reduce your usage of your strata property’s gym/fitness area and swimming pool during the COVID-19 health crisis
The regular usage of common facilities can, unfortunately, increase the risk of the spread of COVID-19. We recommend the following to ensure safety when it comes to COVID-19 and strata living:
- Avoid the use of common areas or shared facilities when possible, as these are areas highly susceptible to germs and viruses
- When using the laundry room, wash your hands before and after using the facility. Ensure you use detergent and a hot water wash, and using the dryer is recommended. Remember to maintain social distancing
- Arrange for parcel deliveries to be left at the front door of your apartment or the lobby area. Use gloves to take receipt of packages and dispose of the packaging immediately. If a signature is required, use your own pen
- Remember to stay up-to-day with information from the Australian Governmentand your public health authority. Restrictions around what facilities people should and shouldn’t be using are changing quickly
Prioritise your mental health if you need to isolate in your apartment
We are amidst a global and national health crisis, so worrying is a normal reaction. However, you can and should take steps to manage stress and anxiety and relieve or prevent mental health struggles.
Proactive steps to managing mental health include:
- Follow a routine: research shows following a routine is good for maintaining mental health because it is something we can control and do well
- Have a strategy in place: if you are getting stressed about the ‘what ifs’ put a plan in place
- Eat well: ensure you are eating healthy food options
- Stay active and exercise: try to exercise somewhere that doesn’t involve touching common area assets to minimise the spread of germs. If you can’t get out, stretching has been proven to help
- Stay connected even when physically distant: self-isolation doesn’t mean social isolation. Use technology to talk to family and friends, and check on those within your building.
When it comes to managing COVID-19 and strata living, it’s always wise to prioritise mental health.
Be cautious and considerate when disposing of waste during a COVID-19 outbreak
When disposing of waste during a COVID-19 outbreak, use common sense and dispose of it considerately. Ensure children, pets and pests cannot access waste and do not leave rubbish unsupervised on the ground.
If you have COVID-19 or are in quarantine, it is recommended that you not dispose of your waste until you have been cleared. If this is not possible, any waste from self-isolating residents should be double-bagged, and the exterior surface should be wiped before handling — when it comes to COVID-19 and strata living, it’s always best to take precautions.
Rethink non-urgent renovation and upgrade works during COVID-19 outbreaks
If you are not under pressure due to an urgent renovation timeline, consider reevaluating new works during this public health crisis. There are a few factors at play that could mean your works may have to come to a halt:
- Your contractor may be prevented from finishing the job as they might experience staffing issues or forced closures
- The building industry might be impacted by shortages of materials and products, causing delays
- Material costs may become more expensive because of scarcity and unusually high demand
- Your works may need to be halted due to a public health order.
When it comes to COVID019 and strata living, it’s best to be considerate of others. Many of your neighbours may need to work from home during this time, and renovation works could result in disturbances and excessive noise.
8. Add to your cleaning regime
Scientists found that COVID-19 was detectable in aerosols from people talking, coughing, and sneezing with the virus lasting four hours on copper, up to 24-hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is the best practice measure for prevention, when it comes to COVID-19 and strata living. We recommend that committees should increase the number, length, and areas that get cleaned, especially in areas that are frequently touched, such as door handles.
If you have contracted cleaners, ask to see their Safe Work Method Statement and talk to them about their COID-19 management strategy so you know they are taking the right measures.
Refer to reliable sources when seeking information about COVID-19
We recommend obtaining updates on COVID-19 from reputable sources. For the latest information, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Health website: If you have questions about COVID-19, you can contact your state or territory public health agency:
- Health Australian Capital Territory: 02 5124 9213
- Health New South Wales: 1300 066 055
- Northern Territory Government: 08 8922 8044
- Queensland Health: 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
- South Australia Health: 1300 232 272
- Tasmanian Government Dept of Health: 1800 671 738
- Victoria State Government Health and Human Services: 1300 675 398
You can also contact the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.
We are living in a time of unprecedented uncertainty, and the only way to combat it is if everyone works together to stop the spread.To access our full range of strata resources or to stay up to date on regular updates, sign up to receive our quarterly newsletter. For a consultation to review your by-laws, our Kemps Petersons Legal team is at your service to assist. Or, one of our team members can assist you with a free assessment – it’s free and carries no obligation.