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Coronavirus / COVID-19 Policy for Condo, Co-op, HOA

Discussion in 'Condo & Co-op Issues' started by Michael Wechsler, Mar 17, 2020.

  1. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Law Topic Starter Administrator Staff Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    New York
    Issue: Coronavirus policies implemented by co-operative associations, condominium boards and home owners associations. COVID-19 has brought about a strange time with a great deal of panic decisions and lack of clarity from government officials and health and welfare agencies. I haven't seen any clear recommendations yet as to general condo, co-op and HOA policy.

    This is an article written covering coronavirus considerations for New York City based co-ops and condos: As coronavirus fears grow, questions loom for NYC apartment buildings [UPDATED]

    Public gyms are being closed, which is an uncontrolled area and whose membership comprises of numerous people from a variety of areas. Whether to close common outdoor areas is an easier decision than are public internal areas. For example, questions about whether to close a party room provided by a building to shareholders or condo owners is an easier decision. Keeping those open would be at odds to social distance unless some type of density limitation could be in effect, e.g. no more than 5 shareholders or condo owners at one time, no guests. It gets to be more challenging with private laundry facilities and other amenities where a number of people can be present in the same room.

    Given how much time people are spending at home now (myself included, working from my home office), I am wondering about the considerations of a need for private building amenities and whether any private building closures would actually make any appreciable difference with containing coronavirus. And then there are questions of liability, which one might guess that attorneys will always say close everything down to prevent any possible liability.

    In our building we have acquired hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes at the door with the doorman and in public, shared areas such as the laundry room and exercise room. The doormen feel more comfortable wearing gloves, so we have provided them with such as well.

    I'm curious if anyone else has seen articles on this topic.
     
  2. hrforme

    hrforme Active Member

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    not an article, just that my daughter's apartment complex (really more of a multi-aged living community that includes a charter school, golf course, retirement village) has closed all common facilities like the laundry area. I suspect most will close common area usage due to liability concerns and the lack of employees to manage them. But that's just an opinion....based on what churches and schools and now eating establishments are doing.
     
  3. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    My building has closed all common areas, will no longer do any non emergency maintenance, and will not do package delivery for tenants — they are making alternative arrangements for the delivery. The mailroom is open, of course, but they recommend social distancing should you see others there. It may be overkill, but certainly their lawyers probably have told them that it's safer than to risk potential liability should someone in the building get ill. I'd probably advise a client to do the same thing if asked, but none have asked me about the issue.
     
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  4. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Law Topic Starter Administrator Staff Member

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    Interesting and thanks for sharing. There are some practical problems with doing the same in many buildings, including our own. If you shut down the laundry room then people will do exactly what for laundry? Find laundromats that are still open which will arguably make things worse? That also assumes that they have access to a car which, here in New York City, is not a given especially now. Wash clothes individually by hand in the tub - for weeks? I'm thinking that limiting access to the laundry room might be a responsible and appropriate method of solving the problem while maintaining social distancing, e.g. only 1 or 2 people at one time with people and potential appointments to be made with the doorman.

    Many of us have been told that we're to work from home at least through February. And my guess is that the number of cases announced is about to be exponentially larger than reported. As such, there needs to be a practical solution that provides for reasonable and appropriate risk assessment.
     
  5. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    In my building each unit has a washer and dryer, so that is not problem. However, for buildings that the management company manages that does have a common laundry room, those rooms are still open for use, but again they recommend people use social distancing when using them and try to space out the use of them. It's the common areas that serve a more social function rather than essential needs that they closed completely — fitness center, pool, outdoor grill and patio, party center, etc.
     

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