Real Estate Best Practices Still Incorporate COVID-19 Forms
Almost three months into quarantine, you may find yourself lulled into a false sense of security, believing that because more counties are moving towards reopening and restrictions are loosening, then COVID-19 has gone away or is no longer a threat.
A recent call to the legal hotline from a caller whose client tested positive for COVID-19 tells us that this may not be the case.
You’ve been given the responsibility to conduct real estate practice safely. Recently revised to conform to guidance for real estate, use of the COVID-19 Property Access Notice (Form COVID-PAN) and the COVID-19 Health and Safety Acknowledgment (Form COVID-HSA) still have a place in your routine, even as restrictions loosen.
The Property Access Notice is not a transactional document and is meant to provide a general warning about the health risks associated with physically accessing properties. You can provide Form COVID-PAN to potential sellers, tenants in occupied properties, inspectors, buyers, etc. – anyone who will be taking part in in-person real estate services; the signed form goes into your file and doesn’t need to be given to anyone else. The form gives a list of health and safety recommendations that should be followed, an idea of questions that may be asked prior to entering a property and an agreement that the signer of the form is going to assume the risk of COVID-related losses. Use of this form is completely optional and depends on brokerage policies, but provides valuable information to consumers no matter what stage of the transaction or color phase you are in.
The Health and Safety Acknowledgement contains similar notice and risk paragraphs, but also asks for the signer of the form to provide information about their current health as it relates to COVID exposure. Because this can change from day-to-day, it may be necessary to have the same individual reaffirm their health as time passes. Even though verbal health screenings are permitted in yellow-phase counties, written documentation such as form COVID-HSA will make contact tracing and proof of compliance much easier weeks or months from now when the information is needed.
The person completing the form uses the last paragraph to indicate their role in the transaction, note the purpose of their visit to the property and record the date and time of the visit. Record-keeping will not always be a requirement, but having a written record on a form that is built into your routine will make it more likely that you’ll have access to the information if it’s needed.
The COVID-HSA is then signed and you may then use the box at the bottom of the page to note the address of the property and, if applicable, have the person receiving the form initial and date it. The form is then given back to you and filed according to your brokerage policies. The initials are there for your protection, to prevent claims that someone’s potential illness or symptoms were not disclosed.
The goal of all of PAR’s standard forms is to protect our members from liability, which sometimes means going above and beyond what is required by law or regulation. Although neither of these forms are legally required, their use is encouraged and may be part of brokerage policies to ensure best practices and minimal liability statewide.