Amid COVID-19, Are Real Estate Matters Moving Forward?

As COVID-19 unleashed a health crisis on an international scale, an economic crisis has also occurred and has impacted every single Californian/American. While COVID-19’s stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements are still in place in Southern California, questions concerning legal matters have continued well through March, April, and May, 2020. These are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Question: Are estate real estate matters moving forward?

Answer: Yes, the real estate industry managed to quickly adjust to new guidelines and measures in order to avoid interruptions. Here are a few issues and matters that have come across our desks the last few months:

  • My landlord is not providing much financial relief during COVID-19. I have lost my job and wasn’t able to pay rent the last two months and is now threatening eviction. Can he do that? What can I do?
  • I’m in the process of buying a house but was presented with a new Coronavirus CAR form. Are you familiar with that? Can you help explain?
  • I need my contract reviewed. My landlord is amending the lease amid COVID-19 and is adding new protections and releases from liability. Do I have to sign this agreement amendment?
  • I’m selling a property and the buyers want an extension to the escrow process as there have been delays in having them sell their house. Can you help navigate the process?
  • I’m acting as a trustee in a trust administration amid COVID-19 and need to sell a house. Is this a good time to sell?
  • I’m buying an investment commercial property and need help with the buying process as well as help establishing an upcoming landlord-tenant relationship with my prospective tenants. Can you help?
  • Our organization is receiving a property from a non-profit organization.  They are out of state. Can you help  us with the process?
  • A friend of mine and I purchased a property together a few years ago. Now we want to go our separate ways, but I want to keep the property. Can you help?
  • My spouse lost their job and I don’t think we can continue with our mortgage responsibilities. Can you help us with some options?
  • I’m looking to protect myself when purchasing a new investment property. Can you help?
  • I currently own seven different investment properties. With stay-at-home orders, we are concerned a tenant will have habitability issues. We’ll need some guidance. Can you help?
  • Our HOA has imposed new regulations amid COVID-19 which I believe are excessive and are not really necessary in light of COVID-19. What can be done?
  • With stay-at-home measures in place, our condominium has experienced more people at home and thus more use of utilities. Those utilities are impacting my home and causing damage. Whose responsibility is it to repair?
  • My homeowner’s association has called me in to an HOA hearing via Zoom. Is that legal? Can I delay my appearance? What are my options?

Clearly these are paraphrased but this is a brief, incomplete list of the legal inquiries that have come through this law firm amid COVID-19. Some have experienced urgent real estate law needs amid COVID-19 while others needed general guidance for months-long processes.  If you need help with real estate law matters, call in and let’s determine how this office can help.

Am I Responsible for Repairs/Maintenance or Is My HOA Responsible?

Homeowner’s Associations have their pros and cons. Nobody likes to pay for the HOA monthly fees, but when they exist homeowners enjoy the benefits of a neat and well-maintained community. As time goes on in your homeownership experience and HOA membership, there will be a point where something requires replacement or repairs. This is true whether you live in an HOA overseeing condominium or single family residences.

A client of mine in Point Loma received a notice from their condominium HOA indicating that her bathroom fixtures caused water to seep through her bathroom floor seeping into condos located below her unit. The letter required repairs to fixtures and piping. A married couple and clients of mine in Little Italy received a notice from their HOA indicating that the floors in the unit were in disrepair causing noise disruption to the neighbors below their unit. The letter required repairs to flooring within the unit. A client of mine in Mira Mesa received a notice that a wall shared with the community was deteriorating and required fixing. The letter required repairs within 60 days. A client of mine in Point Loma received a notice that a balcony outside of her condo. required structural repairs. The notice letter required repairs by the homeowner. Repairs were required in each of these notices issued by the HOA and in each of these notices it was written in a manner that leads the homeowner to immediately believe it was their responsibility to repair without question. However, the process of repairs is not that easy and it is NOT always the homeowner’s responsibility.

Homeowners should be cooperative and responsive to letters sent by HOAs demanding repairs. In doing so, homeowners should also begin the process by working closely with the HOA and carry out some factual analysis to determine the cause behind the problem as well as responsibility of repair. For the homeowner, this includes an analysis of the community’s CC&R’s (Covenants Conditions and Restrictions) as well as Repairs & Maintenance policies. This is where things can get sticky depending upon the HOA’s available documents and the clarity of the content regarding repairs.

If you receive a notice or demand to make a repair in your condominium or home under the jurisdiction of a Homeowner’s Association, consult with an attorney to review the matter closely.  Depending on the item(s) requiring repairs and maintenance, the CC&Rs and California civil code rules, a homeowner or the HOA holds responsibility to repair the required item(s). Analyze the situation.