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

By Staff | Apr 16, 2020

While working remotely, Mike Hartley, president of Hawaiiana Management Company, shares the “office” with toy poodles Honua and Koa. Together, they want to encourage everyone to stay home and be safe!

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. Should we stop charging maintenance fees and late fees? What about evictions, liens, foreclosures, covenant enforcement and assessing fines?

A. Due to the anticipated slow down/shutdown of various businesses throughout the state, we can expect owners to fall behind on paying their monthly association fees. On Kauai, the mayor has already issued a letter to associations to reconsider their covenant enforcement and fine policies at this time. We recommend reviewing options with your managing agent and association counsel on each of these issues so that you are ready to respond to owners when the questions arise.

Resources on this and other COVID-19 topics are available from professional organizations in the condo/community association industry, including the Community Associations Institute (caionline.org) or the Institute of Real Estate Management (irem.org).

Q. How do I know which employees are essential and which are non-essential?

A. In short, each association will have to make a determination if a position(s) ultimately “provides services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of residences.” While there are some differences in the Orders that have been issued to date, there is also general consensus when it comes to critical trades. For example, the Order issued by Governor Ige defines critical trades as: “Building and Construction Tradesmen and Tradeswomen, and other trades, including but not limited to, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, essential activities, and essential businesses and operations.”

Based on the definition, we are suggesting most association employees be considered essential employees. For example: general/resident manager, operations manager, chief/lead engineer, cleaning and janitorial staff, security staff, and maintenance staff. There may be others depending on the specific needs of the associations.

Non-essential employees may include, but not be limited to, some administrative staff, concierge, doorman, and valet. However, this may vary by association and by the individual association’s interpretation of who is essential or not.

Please also note that some employees may be able to work remotely or there may be other essential duties that a non-essential employee could perform.

As information is constantly changing, please check the specific Order for your island.