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Fine & Deo's Counsel on COVID-19 in Condos

The World Health Organization has officially declared COVD-19 a world-wide pandemic. In our view, preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the health and safety of any condominium community takes precedence over formality. Although condominium communities should not panic, decisive and proactive action must be taken immediately. We are not medical experts, but here is our practical, common-sense advice:

Communications with Owners
 
Condominium corporations must take proper safety precautions, and must also be seen by its residents and staff to be doing so. We recommend that condominiums send frequent communications to all residents, providing them information on recommended procedures, measures being taken by the condominium corporation, and the status of any local COVID-19 infections (if any). We have provided links to helpful resources below.
 
Following the Recommendations of Health Authorities and Government
 
Condominium corporations should strictly comply with any recommendations or directives of health authorities and government. Condominium corporations should be monitoring all relevant health authorities on at least a daily basis. We have provided links to helpful resources below. 
 
Employees, Staff, Contractors and Invitees
 
Condominium corporations must insist that all employees, staff and contractors:
 
  • Frequently disinfect (using proper methods and an effective disinfectant the common areas and in particular, areas that are frequently touched; door handles, elevator buttons, pens used by more than one person, concierge desks, management offices, board rooms, exercise facilities, garbage chute rooms, etc.
  • Wash their hands properly (with soap and water for at least 20 seconds) regularly, and use hand sanitizer
  • If the need arises to enter a unit (and cannot be delayed), then ensure proper notice is given and be extremely diligent (i.e. sanitization, hand-washing, wearing gloves, masks, etc.)
  • Notify the corporation and self-isolate at home, if they appear to be sick, if they exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19 (even if they say it is just a cold or flu), or if they have tested positive for COVID-19. We recommend that our office be contacted for further assistance
We remind condominium corporations that under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, condominium corporations have a duty to protect their workers, and owe a duty to take steps to ensure that persons entering on the premises are reasonably safe. This duty extends to infrequent invitees of the condominium corporation, including contractors, engineers, lawyers, auditors, etc. Feel free to contact our office for further information on this point.
 
Residents
 
Residents should also be strongly encouraged, by way of frequent notices and communications, to:
 
  • Wash their hands properly (with soap and water for at least 20 seconds) regularly, and use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is, or appears to be sick
  • Cover any cough or sneeze with a tissue or a sleeve
  • Avoid touching their face (eyes, nose and mouth)
  • Avoid entering crowded spaces, such as an elevator (i.e. wait for the next one)
  • Frequently disinfect personal items, such as cell-phones, headphones, keys, vehicles, etc.
  • Notify the condominium corporation and self-isolate in their unit, if they are sick, (even if they say it is just a cold or flu), if they exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19, or if they have tested positive for COVID-19
Condominium corporations should meet with their cleaning contractor or staff to make provision for increased cleaning and sanitization services, and should install sanitizer dispensers for its residents and staff. Extra measures should be documented and agreed to with the cleaning contractor or staff.
 
Condominium corporations should also consider closing party rooms and other recreational facilities. Directors generally have the inherent legal authority to do so, if it is necessary to ensure the safety and security of persons on the property.  Prior to taking such steps, legal advice should be obtained.
 
Travel to and from Areas with Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
 
Residents employees, staff, contractors and invitees should be requested to notify the condominium corporation if they have travelled to areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases (see links below), have interacted with individuals who have recently travelled those areas, or have exhibited symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19. If so notified, the condominium corporation should take appropriate precautions immediately. We also recommend that our office be contacted if anyone on the condominium premises has tested positive for COVID-19.
 
The City of Toronto has issued guidelines for all return travellers. We have provided a link to those guidelines below.
 
Meetings
 
  • Annual General Meetings (AGMs) should be deferred (especially if the condominium corporation can defer without breaching the “6-month” rule in the Condominium Act, 1998).  Any in-person meetings not required by the Condominium Act, should be postponed to a later date
  • Even if a condominium corporation defers an AGM and breaches the “6-month rule” as a result, the condominium corporation, in our view, would not be successfully penalized or criticized for being overly cautious. If your condominium corporation is considering deferring an AGM past the 6-month period, then we recommend that our office be contacted for further assistance.    
  • Generally speaking, if a Notice of Meeting has been delivered and the decision to defer the meeting is made after the delivery of the Notice of Meeting, then proxies collected for the meeting will no longer be valid and cannot be used at a future meeting. Specific advice should be obtained in the event of such a deferral.
  • If a condominium corporation ultimately decides to hold an AGM then:
  • The owners and residents should be strongly encouraged to participate by way of proxy, or by submitting questions in advance of the AGM (so that it is clear that in-person attendance is not required). In addition, advise owners who are feeling unwell or who are exhibiting symptoms to stay home and participate by proxy
  • Ensure the venue is large enough to allow for at least 1 metre of space between each person
  • Direct attendees to avoid close-contact greetings, such as hugs or hand-shakes
  • Direct attendees not to share personal items (i.e. cell-phones, pens, pencils, AGM packages, etc.)
  • Do not serve food or drinks
  • Explore options for remote participation
  • Board meetings should be conducted electronically, via telephone or video conference. We recommend that our office be contacted for assistance
 
Looking Forward
 
The general advice provided above is intended to provide condominium corporations with some common-sense measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect members of the condominium community.
 
With that being said, the world continues to turn and the business of the condominium corporation must go on – but during this time, condominium corporations should be informed and cautious in their decisions.
 
Please do not hesitate to contact us if your condominium corporation has any questions or if they require assistance throughout this time.
 
Important Links
 

Local Health Authorities on COVID-19

Jonathan H. Fine

Jonathan H. Fine Partner

B.Sc., J.D., F.C.C.I.

jfine@finedeo.com
905.760.1800 x226
905.760.0050

Mario D. Deo

Mario D. Deo Partner

B.A., LL.B.

mdeo@finedeo.com
905.760.1800 x225
905.760.0050

Francesco Deo_290x190

Francesco Deo Lawyer

B.A. (Hons.), J.D.

fdeo@finedeo.com
905.760.1800 ext. 224
905.760.0050

3100 Steeles Ave. W., Suite 300 Vaughan, Ontario, Canada L4K 3R1  TF: 1.888.FINEDEO  P: 905.760.1800  F: 905.760.0050  TFF: 1.888.CONDO55  E: info@finedeo.com
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