Q: Although New York is now in phase 2 of its reopening process, the board of directors of my cooperative in Manhattan is still following strict rules for providers and visitors. All guests have to fill out a form with their name and address and answer personal questions about the reason for their visit, their health and even the means of transport used. Housekeepers, dog walkers and nannies still cannot enter. Can the board be so invasive and restrictive?
A: New York City has started the slow process of reopening, but reopening does not mean a return to normal. This next phase will be very different from the city we knew before it closed.
The state guidelines Set minimum requirements for buildings and add that the owners can “take additional precautions or increased restrictions”. The guidelines require buildings to screen all visitors with a questionnaire asking about exposure to Covid-19. The form of your co-op sounds like one that complies with the current rules, even if it appears to be curious.
Both the state and the New York Real Estate Management recommend restricting non-essential visitors. Since the recommendations do not clarify whether dog walkers, housekeepers or nannies are essential, your building has a lot of leeway there.
“Yes, things are starting to open up, but we have certain limitations,” he said Phyllis H. Weisberg, Real estate lawyer and partner in the New York office of the law firm Armstrong Teasdale. “I talked to a lot of boards and they struggle with these issues. They are not black and white issues.”
Some buildings have let housekeepers in for weeks, while others have not relaxed their restrictions at all. “In most cases, the boards have taken a more conservative approach,” he said Daniel J. Wollman, the managing director of Gumley Haft, a property management company, added that board members can issue guidelines that are stricter than city or state regulations.
Ask your board of directors and administrative agents to give you clearer guidance and understanding of the timeline. When and under what conditions do you plan to re-let providers? You and your neighbors should be able to start planning for this future date so that you can inform your service providers about the new protocols. When people return to work, they need nannies and dog walkers again – these services are becoming increasingly important.
“When New York City opens, people will go out and go to work safely. The buildings will be more open to the outside world,” said Ms. Weisberg.