Social Distance: COVID-19 and Community Associations

COVID-19 has thrown virtually every aspect of modern life into disarray. From small businesses and supply chains right down to simply going outside to enjoy a day at the park with friends, everything seems to have changed overnight. How, then, does this affect community associations, which are largely dependent on social interaction? Local communities, homeowner’s associations, high-rise buildings, large apartment complexes, almost any community setting in which people live are going through a sense of turmoil and have questions about what is essential and what isn’t, and how to handle things moving forward.

The federal government (and subsequently state and local governments) have put out a lot of information what things they want done but have left a lot to be desired in terms of the “definitions” of a lot of the terminology being thrown around. What businesses count as essential? What employees at those businesses are deemed essential? What sort of issues could arise in terms liability for businesses which are still operating during the crisis. For community associations, this is understandably leading to a lot of crosstalk between tenants and community members, managers, owners, and insurance companies trying to untangle the situation.

Of course, exactly what can and needs to be done depends on the type of community association being dealt with as well. A gated community with a homeowners association is understandably going to have very different needs than, say, a condominium or a large high-rise building will.

Here are some situations to briefly consider, just to show how complex the questions can be:

  • Could a lack of landscaping on a property become an issue if someone were to trip on tall weeds or debris? Are landscapers considered essential personnel?
  • Should sneeze guards or plexiglass enclosures be placed around lobby staff in buildings to protect them? Some grocery stores are opting for this. Will it work and what are the implications of doing so?
  • Does the presence of a virus count as property damage? How does business continuity work for community associations?
  • Do pools need to be modified or closed?
  • How are budget going to be handled? Money is already allocated for specific things and with all of the changes, what will need to be purchased and where will that money come from?
  • Should janitorial or restoration companies be called to come in and disinfect? If so, when?

How is your community association handling things? Do you have a plan in place? With no end in sight, we hope to keep you updated with more specific information about individual situations and answer some of the questions that you have, click here to contact us.

 

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