Here's a quick video on three things that landlords and property managers should know about Governor Beshear's latest Executive Order, which you can read in its entirety here.
- BUSINESS CLOSINGS
All businesses that are not considered “Life Sustaining” must cease operations effective at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, except as needed to conduct Minimum Basic Operations.
As of now, it is my position that Property Management companies falls within the definition of a Life Sustaining Business. The language of the order defines a Life Sustaining Business to include those that “provide construction or maintenance of residential . . . structures, including services necessary for sustaining the safety, sanitation, and operation of structures”.
Beyond that, the Order also includes “real estate services” among those that are Life Sustaining. So, I believe Property Management is included within the definition of a Life Sustaining Business and offices may remain open.
- MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING AND HYGIENE GUIDELINES
However, even though allowed to stay open, even Life Sustaining Businesses are required to follow Social Distancing and Hygiene Guidelines:
- Staying six (6) feet apart from customers and other employees
- Ensuring proper employee hygiene practices – regular and handwashing and keeping hand sanitizer available.
- Regularly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Permitting employees to work from home when feasible; and
- Identifying sick employees and asking them to leave.
- EVICTIONS – Until the State of Emergency is lifted:
- All evictions within the state are suspended
- All state law enforcement officers are directed to cease enforcement of orders of eviction
- However, this does not relieve anyone of their obligation to pay rent, pay their mortgage, to otherwise comply with a lease or mortgage agreement.
So, it’s possible that evictions could remain suspended even if the Courts reopen on April 13, if the State of Emergency has not been lifted. My guess, however, is that those things will go arm-in-arm.
OPTIONS FOR WORKING WITH TENANTS
A number of you have reached out and asked about how to work with tenants and avoid Fair Housing violations, so here are three pieces of general advice:
- As long as your policy does not treat individuals differently based on their membership in a protected class and you apply the policy consistently without regard to membership in a protected class, you should be fine.
- You want to make your policy as objective as possible, removing as much discretion as possible. When your policy is objective and you have little discretion, there is much less room for someone to claim they’ve been discriminated against.
- I can also tell you that Fair Housing advocates are appreciative of efforts to keep people in their homes during this time, so you’re going to have some leeway in putting these policies together.
For specific advice, please reach out to your friendly neighborhood attorney. Personally, our office is closed to in-person traffic and our phones are shut down, but I’ll be in the office and you can reach me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling my cell phone.
Stay safe, keep your distance, wash your wands, and I hope to see you soon.