Many associations have temporarily closed common facilities such as clubhouses, laundry rooms, fitness rooms, and hot tubs in response to Covid-19 and social distancing guidelines.  Many are wondering whether or how pools will be able to open later this month.  As the weather gets nicer and quarantine fatigue sets in, we are seeing more demands to open up facilities and to refund assessments if facilities have been closed or access reduced.

IS THE ASSOCIATION REQUIRED TO REFUND ASSESSMENTS BECAUSE OF CLOSED FACILITIES?The experts tell us that social distancing will be with us for a while longer, which impacts the extent to which residents will be able to use common facilities.  Even as associations start to re-open those non-essential facilities, it is likely that social distancing and space constraints will result in more limited use than in past years.  Closed facilities or limited access to facilities do not automatically translate into reduced costs to the association.  Rather, the association may lose anticipated revenue from clubhouse rentals and may have additional cleaning costs than those already planned.

Associations generally have the authority to manage, control and operate the common elements, which includes the authority to temporarily close facilities when appropriate.   Many documents specify that non-use of common facilities does not entitle an owner to an offset in assessments.  The Covid-19 pandemic does not alter the Board’s fiduciary responsibility to meet the Association’s financial obligations and does not alter an owner’s obligation to pay the assessments levied according to the association’s budget.  Associations should be encouraged to work with those owners who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19 and have problems paying assessments right now.  However, an association most likely does not need to refund or reduce assessments because of limited access to facilities.  As always, make sure you review your association’s documents and check with the association’s attorney for specific advice.

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