I spent most of yesterday submitting to the mind numbing effects of antihistamines, having inhaled most of my back yard Sunday during a sudden wind storm. My allergies went completely berzerk, but I think in this case there’s something more. The lingering tickle in my throat and the hoarseness in my voice tells me I may have come down with some kind of summer cold. Where I picked it up, I’ll never know. Maybe at the gym, the grocery store, or at work. The only thing I really want to do is to lie in bed and guzzle NyQuil. But the dog still needs to be walked, the mail still needs to be checked, and a blog post needs to be written.

The thing about being sick as a landlord is this: your tenants are almost always fully aware of when you come and go. If you stay home sick, they’ll know about it. It’s almost impossible to hide an illness, and since you share a home they’re very likely to get whatever contagious bug got you. Most tenants who are mature adults will refrain from bugging you. Then of course, this is a good time to find out who the mature adults are.

Being sick complicates things like cleaning and cooking, so if you get bad seasonal allergies or are sick overall you might want to make sure there’s a fair division of labor chore-wise. If you rotate cooking duties, order out for pizza on the nights you’re sick. In the interests of not sharing the germs, it’s a good idea to skip any kind of group dinner until you’re feeling well.

Sharing a house and sharing air make it hard to avoid passing germs on, but it’s important to do what you can to help your tenants avoid getting sick. One of the first things I do is to communicate with my tenants and let them know I’m not feeling well. That way, if they need to keep more of a distance, they will.

I like to wipe down counters, doorknobs, the fridge door, and other frequently touched surfaces. I use sanitizing wipes: the kind with bleach in them. These are the same kind that are consistently requested by elementary school teachers and consumed at a rate that rivals the effects of a major forest fire. Each of the paper towelettes are loaded with cleanser and enough bleach to kill germs. Unless I sneeze on someone or something I hand to them, nobody will get sick just from touching something that I’ve touched.

Washing my hands frequently helps, but it works best if everyone in the house washes their hands regularly and well. At least 30 seconds is best, with a good soap lather well past the wrists and special attention to the area underneath the fingernails.