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The Past Six Weeks

Six weeks ago, we released the March 2020 edition of our Client Advisory, which included a short discussion about the coronavirus and suggested that co-op and condo boards should “begin considering how they would handle the potential effects on their buildings of residents’ being confined at home for long periods if there is a serious outbreak, even though everyone hopes this will never become necessary.” At the time the March Advisory went to press, there had not been a single confirmed case of COVID-19 syndrome in New York and most public officials were actively encouraging citizens to go on with their “normal lives.”

Not only have our worst fears about the virus pandemic been confirmed, but events have unfolded in ways that anyone scarcely could have imagined. Everyone reading this will be intimately familiar with recent events, but it is worth pausing to reflect on just how much our clients have been asked to handle in recent weeks.

We have been advising our clients on countless problems arising from the pandemic, not only in our monthly Client Advisories, but also in interim releases and in calls and e-mails with all of you. Future editions will focus on problems arising from the pandemic faced by many of our other clients, including real estate developers and commercial landlords, but this edition focuses on particular problems faced by co-op and condo boards.

Every co-op and condo board has had to weigh and implement new policies on issues ranging from closing or limiting access to some common spaces, elevator usage, access by non-residents to the building (whether for social visits, deliveries, dog walkers, housekeepers, etc.), repairs, construction, closings and move-ins/move-outs, making insurance claims, and scheduling of annual meetings, that cannot be held as usual during the pandemic, just to name a few. Boards have had to move quickly from considering “what if” scenarios about someone showing symptoms of illness in the building, to the reality of over 100,000 confirmed cases in New York.

It is all quite a lot to ask a group of unpaid volunteers. That our co-op and condo board members have tackled all of this while dealing with their own health issues, their families, their jobs, and sometimes their personal tragedies, is remarkable and humbling. We have been sincerely impressed by the solidarity, cooperation, and empathy exhibited by all of the co-op and condo boards with whom we have worked with during this period.