The coronavirus outbreak has naturally incited fear among many Americans. As part of your HOA board, you must do everything in your power to discourage the spread of the disease. Here are the duties and responsibilities of HOA board members and COVID-19 guidelines:
HOA Board Members and COVID-19: Defining the Role of HOA Leaders
First of all, the HOA board must determine whether it has an obligation to protect the health and welfare of residents. The board does need to fulfill its primary role in maintaining the community. This includes keeping it safe by ensuring street lights are working and common areas are clean. The individual health of residents, however, goes beyond these duties.
Regardless, it is important for an HOA board to protect the organization from liability. Check your HOA governing documents to identify any provisions requiring you to specifically protect the health and welfare of residents. It is an equally good idea to consult an attorney over what this means for your association. Typically, though, an HOA’s duty to protect the health of its members is limited to community areas.
While residents should generally be responsible for their own health, that does not mean the HOA board must do nothing amid the pandemic. Preventing the spread of the coronavirus is paramount during these trying times. Since the disease is highly infectious, taking swift action is key.
HOA Board and Coronavirus: What to Do
All over the world, businesses are temporarily shutting down and doing what they can to restrict the spread of the virus. The US government has asked Americans to practice social distancing and to limit gatherings of 10 people or more. Since COVID-19 is easily passed from person to person, implementing these small but effective strategies can go a long way.
HOAs are no exception to this rule. As a board member, you must do your part to help stop the spread of the disease. Here are the HOA board responsibilities you must carry out during the coronavirus outbreak:
1. Disinfect Common Areas
The common areas of an HOA community are where people gather the most. The virus is more likely to pass from person to person in these places. Various residents come into contact with the common areas, so it is imperative to sanitize them properly.
Use an effective disinfectant to spray or wipe down common areas, ensuring every surface is clean. This includes doorknobs, elevator buttons, and handles — things people touch often. While it is the residents’ job to make sure they do not touch their faces, the HOA can help mitigate the spread of the virus by keeping common areas clean.
2. Consider Closing Common Areas
As more businesses shut down and allow their employees to work from home, your HOA community might see a rise in residents staying home during workdays. Not everyone has the self-control to stay indoors all day long. People get bored. Soon, they will want to use their free time to swim a lap in the community pool or do some lifting at the gym.
Controlling resident behavior is hard enough for HOA board members and COVID-19 is only going to make it harder. For everyone’s benefit, your board must consider closing common areas until the outbreak blows over. Social distancing is of utmost importance at a time like this. Temporarily closing down common areas is a good way to discourage large crowds.
3. Delay or Cancel Events
Events are another excuse for large gatherings. Being a highly contagious virus, COVID-19 can easily be transmitted to an entire room of people with just a single infected person in attendance. If your HOA has any events coming up, it is a good idea to postpone them indefinitely or cancel them entirely.
This might mean a loss for your HOA if the events have already been paid for. Talk to your vendors to see if you can get a refund under the circumstances. Alternatively, find out if they would be willing to delay the event to a later date.
4. Conduct Meetings and Other Business Remotely
Just because there is a global pandemic going on does not mean all operations must or can stop. Your HOA board can still continue with business as usual even amid a lockdown or quarantine.
If you cannot postpone meetings, you can always conduct them remotely. Thanks to the advancement of technology, there are many ways to do this. You can continue to have discussions and make decisions over email, via telephone, or through video conferencing. There are also some reliable online tools and software that can help your board manage the community from a distance.
5. Install Sanitizer or Alcohol Dispensers
The fight between HOA board members and coronavirus can be won with social distancing and sanitizers. Consider installing sanitizer or alcohol dispensers in common areas, especially in places where people come into most contact with. Any place with elevators is a good start, as multiple people touch elevator buttons all day.
6. Remind Residents of Proper CDC Protocols
Post CDC notices around the community or online to inform residents how they can protect their health. Let residents know that the board is taking precautionary measures to restrict the spread of the virus, such as facility closures, events cancellations, and the like. Make sure homeowners know that your board is only following CDC guidelines. Encourage them to follow these guidelines as well.
7. Deal with Sick Residents and Employees Appropriately
If a resident within your community falls ill or displays any symptoms, ask them to follow CDC protocols. The same CDC FAQs outline what people can do when they are sick. Should a resident test positive for COVID-19, do not immediately announce the discovery.
If the situation allows, you can inform other homeowners that a resident has contracted the virus and then encourage them to protect themselves using CDC guidelines. Do NOT reveal the personal information of the sick resident.
If your HOA employs workers, the board has a responsibility to protect their well-being, too. Ask them to wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing while on the job. If they can perform their duties remotely, consider a work from home arrangement. Any employee who displays symptoms must stay or be sent home until fully recovered.
HOA Board Members and COVID-19: Don’t Panic
It is easy to panic over a health crisis such as the coronavirus outbreak, but no one will benefit from overreacting. Instead, focus on what you can control. As an HOA board member, do your part to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Disinfect and close down common areas, install sanitizer dispensers, cancel events, work remotely, and remind residents of the proper CDC protocols. At a time like this, everyone must work together to flatten the curve.
If your HOA is having trouble with HOA management, consider partnering with a professional management company like us for help. Don’t hesitate to give us a call anytime.
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