Continuity of operations and residents’ safety have become top of mind for community association board members, managers, and business partners as the COVID-19 outbreak begins to impact more and more of the U.S.
Donna DiMaggio Berger, a shareholder with Becker in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a fellow in CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), says her law firm has been providing counsel to association boards on conducting meetings remotely and minimizing residents’ exposure to the coronavirus. She has advised boards to postpone nonessential meetings and events and limit person-to-person contact by practicing social distancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes social distancing as staying away from mass gatherings and keeping 6 feet—about one body length—away from others. This practice restricts where people can gather and can slow or stop the spread of an infectious disease.
For community association residents, that means maintaining a safe distance in elevators, corridors, laundry facilities, and other enclosed spaces, according to Berger.
Management company executives also have been communicating with association boards on adopting preventive measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in their communities.
Sergey A. Petrov, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CEO of Yalnes, Inc., in Seattle, says he is postponing all in-person meetings, site visits, and other events requiring person-to-person contact until the end of March. He is encouraging boards of directors to do the same and to follow guidance from the CDC and the Washington State Department of Health. He also is allowing flexibility for employees to work remotely.
Stephen J. Sulkey, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, founder of Professional Association Management in Wilmington, N.C., recommends that association boards follow guidance from health officials, instruct contractors to clean frequently touched surfaces, and continue communicating the importance of handwashing and social distancing.
“If your homeowners association has a clubhouse, pool, or other public place, you may want to shut them down if someone in your community is infected,” Sulkey states in a recent email sent to all board members. He also would communicate if there were any disruptions to maintenance and upkeep services if workers become sick.
Much like the rest of the world, community associations and their residents are facing a challenge they’ve never before experienced. The questions they’re asking and actions they’re taking are unique but warranted.
“I’m heartened by the amount of care and concern boards and their professional management are displaying during this crisis,” says Berger. “It’s important for residents to work with their boards and managers by adhering to new protocols that are put in place and by self-reporting and self-quarantining if necessary.”
>>CAI has developed guidance, sample forms and documents, and FAQs on the COVID-19 outbreak. Bookmark the page and return regularly for updates and additional resources.
This information is subject to change. It is published with the understanding that Community Associations Institute (CAI) and Ungated are not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, medical, or other professional services. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.
Man, this thing is taking a toll on small businesses across the country. Our call volume has gone down fairly significantly.
Are short term rentals permitted during this time?
You should check your association documents and state law–or any orders adopted by your state or local government regarding the outbreak. Your association attorney will be able to help. Communities around the country are likely handling this differently.
We have a small community of 112 units and a small 20’x40’outdoor swimming pool. Need advice on whether to forego this pool season since “social distancing” or maximum attendees is unenforceable.
It’s important to follow the advisories and latest updates from government and health officials regarding COVID-19 and how these may impact the timeline for opening pools or hot tubs in a community. Here is an article from HOAresources.com about COVID-19 and pool closures: https://hoaresources.caionline.org/closing-community-pools-during-covid-19/.