Residential Home and Commercial Office Showings; Home Inspections; And Residential Appraisers Deemed Essential Services: Issues This Presents to Co-op/Condo Boards During COVID-19 Pandemic
On April 1, 2020, the Empire State Development (“ESD”) agency clarified that residential home and commercial office showings along with back office real estate work, residential appraisal services and home inspections are essential real estate functions effective immediately. The declaration from ESD does specify that:
“Essential Businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health and every business, even if essential, is strongly urged to maintain social distance to the extent possible.”
ESD did clarify that while back-office real estate work is deemed essential, practitioners should utilize telecommuting or work from home procedures to the maximum extent possible.
While these services have been deemed essential, everyone must nevertheless fully comply with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “New York State on PAUSE” directive, which provides, in relevant part, that “essential businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health and every business, even if essential, is strongly urged to maintain social distance to the extent possible.”
This new declaration by ESD will certainly raise some significant issues, sone that we immediately see is what is a Coop or Condo’s Board’s obligation to the health and safety of shareholders/unit owners in a building as juxtaposed against the rights of a shareholder/unit owner to show their units to prospective purchasers? Can a Board impose any limits on the traffic of prospective purchasers in terms of time and numbers of person in any one showing or during any one day? What obligations does this increased traffic of strangers into the building raise in terms of sanitizing common areas used by the additional traffic, especially elevators? Can a Board impose a “sanitizing” fee, for the extra cleaning required as a result of the additional traffic of strangers into the building, on those shareholders/unit owners who insist upon actively showing their apartments for sale/rent during this public health crisis?
These are just some of the issues we will be looking into as events develop on a daily (if not hourly) basis. Please contact us with any questions you may have regarding this, or any other, issue as we are continuing to work (albeit remotely) during this crisis to protect your interests and address all of your concerns.