Legal Counsel Offers Thoughts on COVID Restrictions
Like all other recent days, the New York Times lead article is about the coronavirus. A recent article, however, strikes a positive note even as it suggests that only an extraordinary level of trust and cooperation by our nation’s citizens is necessary. The positive is that China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have “with furious efforts… brought [the contagion] to heel. Italy, which early on adopted a lax social policy, has not and suffers the worst.”
There is no disagreement among the experts. “Containment becomes realistic only when Americans realize that working together is the only way to protect themselves and their loved ones” and no, “working together” does not mean business as usual. “Americans must be persuaded to stay home.”
The calls that leadership, PAR’s Legal Hotline and counsel are receiving in great number are from members whose livelihood and well-being are at stake, from members who feel great pressure and an altruistic desire to relieve the calamitous situations their clients are undergoing. Members are turning to us seeking clarity when little is to be had. They look to us because we are the leaders of the trade association whose mission is to support and advance the ability to practice the profession and earn a decent living for and support their families. We strive to answer our member’s questions and meet their needs.
Certain limited portions of a real estate transaction – such closings conducted by title companies – may still be able to move forward under the governor’s order, though there is broader language that indicates other real estate activities can no longer be done in-person. But even with this language and the clear intent of the governor’s message, there are still plenty of questions being asked. Is it OK to enter a vacant property? One that is inhabited but that the owners have left for a period of time? There are many scenarios that are equally head-spinning and difficult to answer.
PAR cannot enforce what members will do in this period of shut-down, but your association and your leadership can certainly explain the situation and take a position in what Realtors® should be doing, what is in our nation’s interest and how we can be good soldiers in what is described daily as a war.
While we are a trade organization with a mission to support our members, we are also aspirational. Realtors® subscribe to NAR’s Code of Ethics, which exceeds what the commonwealth demands of our members, and routinely put the interests of our clients and community above our own. If there was ever a time to put the interests of others at the forefront, it is now. If there a time for our industry to support the call of our state and nations leaders, it is now.
We take this opportunity to ask you to join us, the leaders of your association. Let us abide by the clear intent of our governor’s order. Let us undertake the only responsible position in this struggle, by following both the letter and the spirit of the governor’s order by avoiding social contact and by adhering to clear guidance we are receiving from health experts rather than putting ourselves and others at further risk.