Protecting the residents and management staff should be a priority for condominium association board members and property managers during the novel coronavirus outbreak. Most management companies have already implemented their business continuity plan to ensure there are no disruptions in services provided by associations and management. While it is important for management to be prepared to deal with the possible impact of this pandemic, it is also imperative that board members stay involved and consider having a preparedness plan in place for the association at large.
The first step a board of directors should take — and one that is often overlooked — is to designate an individual to stay informed on governmental updates by consulting reliable resources and signing up to receive alerts. Government and health department websites dedicated to providing COVID-19 updates, such as the Centers for Disease Control website, are typically the most reliable sources of information. In this ever-changing environment, guidelines and orders issued by local and state governments are continually updated, and it is important to ensure that the information which is being relied upon for vital decisions is the latest and most accurate available.
The next order of business is to have a clear communications plan in place. Effective communication allows both residents and management staff to stay informed about coronavirus updates, safety practices, amenity closures, and possible infections in the building. Boards should ensure that rosters are updated with the most current contact information for residents and building staff. They should also consider contracting with a third-party platform that enables secure communication between owners and management via email, texts or an app, should these capabilities not already be in use.
It is also important to understand that everyone has a role in the well-being and safety of their community. Therefore, it is essential to have management work directly with the building’s board of directors while planning and modifying operations in response to COVID-19. Part of the plan should include: how they intend to handle a case where a resident or staff member becomes infected, how the message will be delivered to residents, and what safety precautions will be implemented to reduce the spread to others. These measures should be discussed with the association’s attorney to make sure the association is not running afoul of any laws or exposing itself to discrimination and/or violation of privacy claims.
Finally, and most importantly, staying on top of cleaning of supplies and procedures — and updating them as needed — will likely provide the highest return on resident health. Increasing the cleaning and sanitation of high-traffic areas and items that are touched frequently such as door handles and elevator buttons is essential. Shared workspaces such as valet stations and front desks should be cleaned regularly to avoid the spread of germs, and hand sanitizer dispensers should be placed throughout the common areas. A minimum of two months of essential and consumable supplies should be kept on hand, and cleaning supplies should be regularly restocked. A visit to authoritative health websites can provide guidelines for best practices and should be consulted.
Our firm’s community association attorneys hope all the recommendations that we have been providing in this blog prove to be helpful. As we continue to navigate these uncharted waters, our attorneys will update this blog with information that we think is relevant and helpful to associations, and we encourage all directors, managers and members to enter their email address in the subscription box on the right in order to automatically receive all our future articles.