We think it goes without saying that the novel coronavirus and related risks surrounding Covid-19 have “turned the world upside down”. And condominiums are very much involved because condominiums typically involve meetings and social gatherings and people living in close community. We’re certainly getting lots of questions from our clients. In case it may help, here are our answers to some FAQs surrounding coronavirus and Covid-19:
Our answers to some FAQs
Can we cancel the AGM? What about the legal requirement that the AGM be held within six months of the year end?
As reported in our recent blog, it’s our view that condominium Boards have the right to postpone the AGM (as the Board considers reasonable), even if this means that the AGM will ultimately be held after the six-month deadline. Also: In our view Boards have the right (in these special circumstances) to allow owners to attend meetings electronically (even if there is no by-law to authorize such).
Given the current advice from governing officials, we’re inclined to recommend that condominium corporations suspend all meetings of owners for the time being (subject to special circumstances).
What about Board Meetings?
As also reported in our recent blog, it’s our view that condominium Boards can resolve to hold meetings by teleconference and/or to suspend meetings and/or to make decisions by email (with such decisions to be ratified at a future Board meeting to be held when this is practically possible).
Given the current advice from governing officials, we’re inclined to recommend that condominium corporations refrain from holdings Board meetings in person for the time being (subject to special circumstances).
Can the Board prohibit social activities and gatherings on the common elements?
As also reported in our recent blog, in our view the short answer to this question is “yes”. In our view, the Board can suspend activities on the common elements as the Board deems appropriate to enhance safety.
Can the Board close down amenities (like the pool, sauna, change rooms, exercise room, etc.)?
In our view, the answer is again “yes”. We note: Many condominium corporations are deciding to close their amenities simply because the Boards feel that this is one good way to help contain the spread of the virus (for the good of the entire condominium community as well as for the society at large). In our view, this is perfectly proper and in keeping with the Board’s authority.
Given the current advice from governing officials, we’re inclined to recommend that condominium corporations close down their amenity areas for the time being.
Can we place restrictions on people coming to and from the building?
In our view, condominium Boards likely don’t have the right to prohibit residents from inviting others to the property and from having deliveries made to their units. HOWEVER: We do feel that the Board can impose reasonable restrictions, such as:
Installing hand sanitizers and asking that all persons entering the building thoroughly wash their hands (with the hand sanitizer) as they enter.
Similarly asking that any person leaving a unit (to enter the common elements) first carefully wash their hands and then use hand sanitizer.
Developing special Rules for deliveries, as determined by the Board to reduce risks in the particular condominium.
Other procedures as may be determined by the Board.
Should we be considering enhanced cleaning of the common elements at this time?
Many Boards are taking this step; and in our view this is absolutely within the Board’s mandate (more on this below).
Do we have other comments and suggestions for Condominium Boards surrounding these issues?
Yes, here are some of our ideas:
Consider sending a notice to owners and residents (electronically if possible) to let them know how to communicate with the Board to advise if they have tested positive for the virus.
Consider adding signage to let all persons on the property know how to mitigate virus transmission via social distancing protocols (i.e. limiting contact with large groups of people, frequent hand washing with soap and water, covering cough and sneeze with your elbow….see the Ottawa Public Health Authorities website for this explanation of social distancing or more suggestions).
Consider increasing cleaning of commonly touched surfaces on the property (i.e. entry doors, garbage room doors, elevators, etc.).
Consider regular notices to owners and residents (electronically if possible) to advise of the steps the Board is taking.
Consider steps to coordinate (virtually if possible) with residents who have tested positive for the virus to reduce the transmission risk (i.e. sanitizing any common areas visited by the resident, working with the resident to limit their travel on the property, etc.).
We expect to have more blogs for you as the questions keep coming in.
In the meantime, we wish you as much safety and comfort as possible in this exceptional crisis.
Stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the latest developments in condominium law!