Information About COVID-19 and Community Associations
Radom & Wetter is monitoring the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on community associations.
We are encouraging community associations to follow the latest guidance and updates issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We understand that homeowners, board members, community association managers, management company executives, and business partners may have questions about prevention, containment, classes, and events.
It is important to recognize, however, that Radom & Wetter Attorneys are not health care professionals. The CDC and other qualified health officials should continue to be the primary source of current information and guidance. Radom & Wetter is offering general, precautionary guidance from officials and adding some common-sense guidelines.
What can community associations do?
Community associations should review or establish an emergency plan in consultation with legal counsel, insurance and risk management experts, and their manager.
This plan could address whether it’s possible to conduct association business remotely, how to handle common areas and amenities, anti-discrimination compliance, wage and hour laws if the associations employs staff, and communication with residents.
Meetings and events. Generally, there are several methods by which association members or association boards transact business in the absence of everyone gathering at the same time and location—some form of written consent, electronic meetings, or a vote outside a physical meeting.
Community associations should contact their attorney and should review state statutes and governing documents to determine what is possible.
In-person meetings are almost always preferred because of the ability to discuss proposals, deliberate, and change minds. Most online and electronic voting simply permits an up or down vote on a proposal.
There are circumstances in which a meeting is simply not possible, so it is worth considering what other options exist to transact business.
In addition, state and local governments may be offering guidance or mandates regarding “group gatherings.”
Community associations should check with the state or local health officials to determine if guidance or restrictions are in place.
Common areas and amenities. Community associations control the common areas, and owners are responsible for their private property. If the virus becomes widespread, communities may want to consider:
- Extensive cleaning, disinfecting, or wiping down of common areas and common area surfaces
- Postponing or canceling community events and meetings
- Closing common areas and amenities, such as gyms, clubhouses, and pools
- Installing hand sanitizer dispensers or wipes on common areas for owner and guest use
- Community association board members should consult with their professional partners, including community manager and attorney, on how best to handle preparing for and reacting to COVID-19 within their community.
Fair housing and COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. All federal agencies are working aggressively on a multi-layered, cross-agency public health response to this evolving situation. HUD is encouraging housing providers, including community associations, to share relevant CDC fact sheets with individuals, families, and staff members. Read more from HUD.
Community associations are reminded that their responses to residents regarding the coronavirus must be compliant under the Fair Housing Act and related regulations.
Wage and hour laws. If your community employs staff, it should review how and whether it will compensate employees in the event of an interruption to normal business operations.
Communication. Whatever your community decides to do regarding meetings, events, common areas, amenities, and other measures regarding COVID-19, you should clearly and consistently communicate with residents. Use your newsletter, website, email, social media, or bulletin board to inform and educate.
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 coronavirus.
The coronavirus is a family of viruses that can cause the common cold and more severe diseases such as COVID-19. Symptoms of COVID-19, which can appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure, can include fever, runny nose, cough, and breathing trouble.
Most will develop only a mild illness. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal. There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your health care provider immediately.
The CDC is recommending that Americans prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community. Community-based interventions such as school dismissals, event cancellations, social distancing, and creating employee plans to work remotely can help slow the spread of COVID-19. Decisions to take those steps will be made by local and state officials, in consultation with federal officials as appropriate, and based on the scope of the outbreak and the severity of illness.
The CDC has recommended that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy, and is suggesting postponing nonessential travel to Japan. There are no domestic (U.S.) travel restrictions.
Community associations, management companies, and business partners should take the appropriate measures to ensure a hygienic environment, including regular cleaning of common areas and meeting spaces, and refilling of soap and hand sanitizers.
The best way to prevent the spread of illnesses, such as COVID-19, seasonal flu, and other respiratory viruses and germs, is to practice everyday preventive actions, including:
- Get a flu vaccine.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
- The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
This information should not be considered legal advice and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with an attorney. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Radom & Wetter can be reached by calling (908) 707-1500 or by visiting 245 Route 22 West, Bridgewater, NJ 08807 or https://radomandwetter.com.