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Condo Renovations during COVID19

Even though Georgia has started to reopen for business, community associations are still taking precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true for condominiums where public indoor spaces are often unavoidable (e.g., common element lobbies, elevators, and mail rooms). For this reason, condominium boards and managers have been justifiably concerned about residents bringing in outside visitors. In fact, there have been many questions as to whether a resident should be allowed to bring his or her contractor into the building?

In early April, persons that were required to shelter-in-place (under Governor Kemp’s Executive Order dated April 2, 2020) were not supposed to receive visitors unless the visitor qualified under one of the exceptions listed in the Order. In the context of a visiting contractor, the most applicable exceptions were for: (1) visitors providing support for the person to conduct activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living; and (2) visitors providing necessary supplies and services, such as food and supplies and equipment needed to work from home, and products needed to maintain safety, sanitation, and essential maintenance of the home or residence. Although the Order above is no longer in effect, condominium boards and managers can still use the foregoing language as guidance for visiting contractors going forward.

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Community Responsibility for Operating & Opening Facilities

Communities are faced with many novel questions when creating operational procedures and cleaning policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.  What is the new normal for community association responsibility when operating and opening facilities during this crisis?

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Collection Policies

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused community association leaders to reflect on their existing assessment collection policies.  In implementing circumstantial policies, it is important to recognize that an association cannot function without payment of assessments from its members. By following these fundamental guidelines, an association can address the needs of its members without compromising essential functions of the community:

  • Do not waive, reduce, or delay any portion of the annual assessment.  Maintaining the existing schedule of assessments removes any uncertainty about what is owed and when it is due.  There are many individuals who will pay the full amount owed on time.
  • Do not declare to the membership that late fees, interest, or collection measures will be suspended.  Doing so may have the unintended consequence of discouraging payment from those who would have otherwise paid. 
  • Do continue to negotiate settlement of delinquent accounts with members.  Agreements should be made on a case-by-case basis, identify a schedule for payment, and secure remedies for the association in the event of default.  If the terms provide for waiver of interest or late fees, this should only occur upon final payment.
  • Do continue to proceed with normal collection activities, including letters, liens, lawsuits, and garnishments.  Doing so can be effective in encouraging settlement or securing a better position for the association if settlement cannot be achieved.

Some members were delinquent in payment of assessments before the pandemic began and more will become delinquent before emergency measures have been lifted.  The decisions made now, will have a significant impact on the association’s financial wellbeing when the world returns to normal (and it will return to normal).  Consult with your community association attorney for more information.

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