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Frequently asked questions: How COVID-19 mandates affect condo and community associations, Part I

By Staff | Apr 9, 2020

Mike Hartley serves as president of Hawaiiana Management Company, Ltd.

As you know, Governor Ige’s stay at home/work from home Order for essential and non-essential businesses and employees went into effect on Wednesday, March 25, with additional restrictions regarding Neighbor Island travel on April 1. We wanted to share some of the most frequently asked questions we have received from the associations we serve on six Hawaiian islands.

While we recognize that these answers may vary for each community based on the specific circumstances for each one, we hope our responses will help you determine the best course of action for your community. This list is by no means comprehensive, as we know that new questions will arise as we work through this complicated time.

Q. We have an annual meeting scheduled between now and the end of April; should we postpone it?

A. The Orders state: “All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited,” (except for the limited purpose expressly permitted in the Order). We are recommending that any annual meeting be canceled, postponed or reconfigured (for example, teleconferencing). However, please check your documents and consult with your association attorney, since there may be legal implications.

Q. We have a Regular board meeting and various committee meetings scheduled between now and April 30; should we postpone them?

A. Cancelling or changing a previously scheduled board meeting typically rests with the majority of the board; however, be sure to check your governing documents. If you do hold a board meeting, be sure to comply with the Orders by holding the meeting via conference call or video call in lieu of a physical gathering.

While association business will still need to be conducted during this period, it can be difficult to discuss more complicated matters via conference/video call. Another option in lieu of a regular board meeting is to hold a Special Meeting and only focus on the essential action items needed by the board during this time. We are encouraging our clients to communicate via phone or e-mail. Your managing agent can attend meetings by phone or video conference.

Q. We have various amenities (pool, sauna, library, gym, golf simulator, BBQ area, etc.) in our association; should they be closed?

A. While some associations have kept some of their amenities open, subject to individuals complying with Social Distancing Requirements, many associations have already closed their amenity areas entirely. As a board, you will have to make a decision in compliance with the Orders. However, due to the Orders, we are recommending that your common area amenities be closed at this time if you have not closed them already.

Q. Should we allow guests to visit our association?

A. Consistent with the Orders, all individuals currently living within the city/county are ordered to stay in their place of residence. As such, we are recommending that guests should not be allowed into your association or home.

Q. We have a new hire starting in a few days; should they still start?

A. We recommend holding off on any new hires unless the position they are being hired for is essential and cannot be covered by existing staff.

Q. Will our association vendors continue to work to maintain our association during this time?

A. There are various Essential Businesses identified in the Orders that particularly relate to association-type vendors, including “Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences.”

If a service being performed is not essential or necessary, those services should be suspended. Examples may include items such as yoga classes, valet services, concierge services and so forth.

If you have not already done so, please check with the vendors who service your property to see if there are any changes in their work schedules. You may want to focus first on vendors who perform routine maintenance/services and any vendors who provide emergency services for your association.

Ask vendors what their policy is for any of their employees who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or have traveled off the island. Make sure they are required to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to work. In addition, make sure that Social Distancing has been discussed with employees and is currently their standard practice.