WHAT ABOUT PROPERTY MANAGEMENT WHEN IT COMES TO BUSINESS CLOSURES?

Published on: March 27, 2020

As of this writing, both Massachusetts and New Hampshire now operate under orders from their respective governors for all non-essential businesses to be closed to the public and for work to occur on a remote or modified basis (e.g. restaurants serving take-out only).  On March 23rd, Governor Baker issued this order for Massachusetts effective at noon on March 24th until noon on April 7th (unless extended).  On March 26th, Governor Sununu issued a similar order effective midnight March 27th until May 4th.

When it comes to professional property management, MEEB opines that these businesses are essential in that they provide services necessary to continue the functioning of buildings, as well as critical support for necessary operations, potentially including undertakings that are responsive to the crisis.  In fact, under the leadership of MEEB’s Ed Allcock, CAI New England has issued a chapter determination that property management provides essential services within the community association industry.  At this time, MEEB is seeking necessary exemption so that we may remain open and available to assist associations and property management with legal services during this difficult time.  In the alternative, MEEB has made arrangements for attorneys to have remote access to our systems and thus, if need be, we will assist our clients from home.

The conclusion that property management constitutes “essential services” is explicitly supported in the FAQs section of the Mass.gov website on COVID-19 resources.  You can review the MA FAQs by right clicking the link below:

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-essential-services-faqs

Property management firms may seek documentary verification by applying for a certificate of exemption from the MA order by clicking the link below:

https://www.mass.gov/forms/essential-service-designation-request

Governor Sununu’s March 26th order contains virtually the same language and is, therefore, reasonably subject to the same interpretation.  Further, the “essential services” list also includes those providing for building functions and the like.  You can review the New Hampshire list by clicking the link below:

https://www.governor.nh.gov/news-media/emergency-orders/documents/emergency-order-17.pdf

Property management firms may seek exemption in New Hampshire by sending an email to the following address and providing contact information and a justification:

essential@nheconomy.com

In Rhode Island, Governor Raimondo issued a March 22nd Executive Order effective March 23rd at 5:00p.m. until March 30th.  Although the order does not serve as a complete shutdown of business beyond essential services, it does require shutdown of public recreation and entertainment and “close-contact” businesses.  Those remaining open must comply with specific virus-related requirements.  The order may be viewed at the link below:

http://www.governor.ri.gov/documents/orders/Executive-Order-20-09.pdf

Please contact Gary M. Daddario (gdaddario@meeb.com or 603-420-9475) for further assistance.