Q. As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic spreads, we're trying to keep our building and residents as safe as possible as we practice social distancing and self-quarantine as necessary. To that end, can we ban all non-residents from the building?
A. According to Dale Degenshein, an attorney with Manhattan-based firm Armstrong Teasdale, "It is very impractical to ban all non-residents. For example, a child might want to visit their elderly parent who lives alone. While boards may ban large gatherings, or limit the number of people who will be permitted into an apartment for an event, we have seen no such governmental guidelines which recommend limiting all guests to multifamily dwellings. However, encouraging residents not to invite non-residents into the building is certainly a sensible idea. As to banning certain non-residents (such as dog walkers, tutors, nannies, etc.), it certainly would be prudent, but boards must consider each on a case-by-case basis based on a number of considerations."
Q. What should we do about deliveries?
A. "We recommend that no delivery personnel be permitted past the entrance of the building," Degenshein continues, "and that in most cases residents pick up their packages or food deliveries in the lobby or outside of the building. If a resident has a delivery, a building staff member can leave the package outside of the apartment. For non-doorman buildings, the resident should be required to come down to the lobby of the building. Boards may have to permit access by a delivery person if a resident is sick or self-quarantined."
Q. What about open houses and brokers who want to show apartments?
A. "We recommend open houses be paused during this time as they can bring large groups of people into the building and place an unnecessary burden on already busy staff," says Degenshein. "Boards may permit individual showings, but should require that those visits be scheduled with the resident manager or management in advance."
Q. Should building or association employees make service calls inside apartments?
A. "Before making a service call," says Degenshein, "staff is permitted to ask residents if they are sick, or have been exposed to the virus. However, we believe that rather than put staff in that position, the board may want to direct that all service calls be suspended. Emergencies must be dealt with individually."
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