“We Don’t Want Any”: Rules and Restrictions for Nonresidents in a Public Health Emergency

In early April 2020, a Manhattan co-op prohibited the brother of one of the building’s owners from staying in his unit. According to the New York Times, the brother, a physician, had traveled to the city from rural New Hampshire to volunteer his services in the battle against the coronavirus.

This incident may have struck some as just another example of New York City co-op craziness, but, in the face of the coronavirus, many community associations have considered restrictions on guests.

“You can’t completely prevent outsiders from coming in because some are permitted by government orders,” says Kevin Hirzel, managing member of Hirzel Law, PLC, a Michigan-based firm that works with community associations. So how far can your clients go in limiting access during a public health emergency?

“Overall, during a ‘temporary’ emergent situation, an association probably can restrict occupancy to permanent residents, except for the situation involving a caregiver to a resident,” says Michael Kim of Schoenberg Finkel Newman & Rosenberg, LLC in Chicago.

An association’s ability to limit occupancy might depend on the type of association, though. “I think it’s difficult for a condominium or homeowners association to restrict family members from staying over,” Hirzel says. “Most governing documents don’t contain such a prohibition.

“However, if they have a provision that prohibits illegal activity and having a family member stay over would violate an executive order, I think they would be in a position to do so. In my opinion, a co-op would be in a better position to do this than a condo or HOA, as the co-op is the actual owner of the building and the owners only own stock, not a property interest.”

To learn about how associations can restrict the presence of package and food deliveries, as well as contractors, read our new article Control the Flow: How to Regulate Outsiders During a Health Crisis.

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey