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Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Your Association: Tips for a Proactive Response

Since the introduction of COVID-19 into our state, government entities, businesses, community associations, and citizens have been monitoring news sources, government communications, and health care professional communications to learn more about the virus, its potential health and economic effects, and potential mitigation measures available. Finding the line between an over reactionary and proactive, prudent responsive course of action can be difficult given the state of information regarding COVID-19, which is developing daily. Although the rights and powers of each community association are dependent, at least to some degree, on the contents of its governing documents, there are measures that can be considered at this stage in an effort to mitigate the potential effects of COVID-19 on your homeowners’ or condominium association and its members. Here are some ideas for the board of a homeowners’ or condominium association to consider in preparation for, or response to, COVID-19:

Stay Informed. Information about the virus and its potential and anticipated effects is developing daily. Continue to periodically review reliable sources of information so you can tailor your degree of preparation and response accordingly, and encourage your residents to do the same. 

Obtain Contact Information for Residents. Although the circumstances are unfortunate, the current situation can be used as an opportunity to obtain contact information for your community’s residents. Consider disseminating a form for association members and residents to complete and return to provide contact information, and preferably, an email address to facilitate prompt communication. The form could include a check or initial box indicating the member’s agreement to receive association official notices and other communications via email to the address provided. Also, although a member’s consent to receive official notices must be “written,” members could be encouraged to submit a copy of the contact form electronically to the association in addition to mailing a physical, written copy to allow for the mailed copies to be opened and incorporated into the association’s official records later (if exposure to the virus by the person who would otherwise open the mail is a concern).  

Consider Limiting Common Area Occupancy & Use. Consider adopting rules limiting the number of simultaneous occupants or users of common areas and facilities. Recommendations of the number of occupants of facilities continue to change, and sources have not appeared to reach a consensus on occupant limitations, but the general goal is to limit large gatherings of people and limit the proximity of people to each other to curb the spread of the virus. However, do not attempt to regulate use of common areas and facilities based on age or national origin. 

Consider Increasing Frequency & Scope of Common Area Cleaning. Consider increasing the frequency and scope of cleaning and sanitizing of the common areas and facilities, which could be based on the types of facilities your association operates. For example, it would be reasonable to increase the frequency and scope of cleaning of an exercise facility and equipment to a greater degree than an infrequently used clubhouse. 

Consider Encouraging Residents to Limit Guest Visits. At this stage, we do not recommend attempting to limit rentals of dwellings aside from what your association’s governing documents otherwise provide for the regulation of rentals. However, it may be prudent to encourage residents to limit guests, particularly for condominiums with common points of entry used to access units. Similarly, we recommend exercising caution in attempting to implement any new tenant screening procedures or asking questions to d