We are in the midst of an unfolding historical moment across the world, the United States, and in Washington State. While it’s one thing to watch and read about dramatic stories unfolding in the news, the Coronavirus Pandemic has brought the drama to our own doorstep. We are now dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak in our lives and within our own community associations in a deeply personal way. And while most of us are not thrilled to play any part in the COVID-19 outbreak, here we find ourselves, and the time for action is now upon us all. At Brandt Law Group, we know that there are a lot of questions and uncertainty as we navigate this challenging time together with you. So we ask, in the midst of this historical time in your community and in your association, what can you do as an individual homeowner?
COVID-19 is having an effect on each of us in our own personal way. Perhaps you have found yourself a direct victim of the virus or you have a loved one that has fallen ill. Your responsibility in social distancing and self-isolation increases to prevent the spread of the disease. Living in a community association, you live in tighter quarters with shared common area that single-family homeowners and residents don’t have to consider. Germs can be spread amongst residents in a community association much easier and more quickly. As such, be diligent, be smart, consider your fellow homeowners and follow the guidance of your medical professional.
Perhaps you have lost your job and cannot afford to pay your mortgage, let alone your association assessments. If this is the case, communication is key! Contact your Association’s Board of Directors and/or management company immediately and discuss this matter with them. If you need to enter into a payment plan, do so. While there is currently a government-mandated moratorium on evictions, meaning that late rent payments will not lead to an immediate consequence, this does not pertain to homeowners’ dues or assessments unless the Association has specifically indicated such is the case in writing. Associations will continue to mandate timely payments and will continue to enforce collection of assessments pursuant to the governing documents. Keep in mind, from the Association’s perspective, it cannot function unless it is funded; the grass cannot get cut, the roof will not be maintained, essential bills cannot get paid. Be forewarned, your Association will institute collection proceedings against you, which can lead to eventual foreclosure, if necessary. As such, the earlier you open up honest dialogue with your Association regarding your financial position, the better position you will find yourself in.
Is that racket coming from your unit? If you find yourself a non-essential employee, attempting to now work from home, you are likely utilizing your unit in ways you, and your neighbors, are not used to. If you have school-aged children, who are now out of school and home all day, we see you and we know you are struggling. But your neighbors are struggling too and they aren’t used to you being home all the time either. All those toilet flushes, dishwasher runs, cabinets slammed, and racing and jumping children equate to noise. This can cause tempers to flare. It is your responsibility to be understanding of your neighbors’ struggles, and communicate with each other, from a distance, of course. If there are reasonable ways to lessen the noise emanating between units (i.e. laying down additional rugs), make it happen!
Whether you have been sick yourself or you have loved ones that have fallen ill to this unforgiving disease, you lost your job and you cannot afford your bills, you find yourself trying to work from home while simultaneously assisting your school age children in their attempts to remotely learn, or you find yourself as an essential employee working on the front lines to keep us safe (Thank You!), we all have our challenges to bear. One thing that is different about the Coronavirus Pandemic that is different from most other historical moments (other than, perhaps war) is that there is not one of us who can say that we have not been personally impacted. However, with a little extra patience and a whole lot of empathy for each other’s personal struggles in this uncertain time, we will get through this together and hopefully come out on the other side as a stronger community with a better understanding of each other.
Brandt Law Group is here to discuss these issues further, and in more depth, with you if you have questions specific to your individual circumstances that need answering.
Stay Safe out there!