Consolidated Appropriations Act extends COVID-19 benefits

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “CAA”) extended employer tax credits for COVID-19 paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave through March 31, 2021. Employers must continue to obtain and keep required records to substantiate any tax credits taken for such leave payments. But, the CAA did not extend employees’ entitlement to leave under the FFCRA past the original expiration date of December 31, 2020.

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Residential Cooperatives May Now Get Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans

The most recent federal Coronavirus stimulus law, finally signed on December 27, 2020, extends the PPP loan program to residential cooperatives.

PPP loans are loans made by banks that are 100% guaranteed by the United States Small Business Administration, with up to 100% of the loan being eligible for forgiveness if the borrower spends an amount equal to the loan proceeds on specific types of expenses.

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Co-ops May Want to Consider Refinancing Right Now

With COVID-19 infections and deaths rising to terrifying levels across the nation, it’s a consolation to co-op boards to know that one number has fallen to historic lows. With interest rates now around 3%, a growing number of co-op boards are approaching banks seeking to refinance their underlying mortgages. Just published in Habitat magazine is an article entitled, “There Has Never Been a Better Time for Co-ops to Refinance” that addresses this issue.

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Co-ops & Condos Have Responsibility with Regard to their Employees

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the federal agency which enforces certain federal workplace anti-discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), recently provided employers with guidance to help navigate employee return-to-work issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. The laws, regulations and governmental guidance have been in flux and will continue to adapt to the developing circumstance.

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Virtual Shareholder Meetings

One of the many new challenges facing co-op and condo boards during the time of COVID-19 is the issue of continuing lines of communication and maintaining legal responsibilities usually addressed via public (in person) meetings.  On June 29, 2020 the law firm Armstrong Teasdale published some valuable advice regarding virtual meetings in co-ops and condos in its article entitled:  “Holding a Virtual Shareholder Meeting in New York”

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Co-ops Supported in Washington

The recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security and the Paycheck Protection Program acts that were designed to provide some financial support to those battling the COVID-19 pandemic did not specifically include co-ops and condos, and so many of our local residents in need were, by default, excluded from the resources they should have been due. The Association of Riverdale Cooperatives & Condominiums, along with other similar organizations, has been steadfast in its mission to correct this wrong.

Many of our elected officials have singly, or in group, accepted the challenge ARC posed and have brought the issue to those in power in the Administration.  

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Elected Officials in D. C. Advocate for Co-ops

Almost immediately upon the passage of the Payroll Protection Program, co-ops and condos were faced with the all-too-familiar problem of ambiguity in legislation.  Were co-ops and condos meant to be included in the PPP or were they not?  Some housing corporations were able to acquire some assistance provided by the program, while most did not.

Over time, our legislative representatives heard from ARC and many others representing co-ops and condos throughout the City of New York asking for clarification and specific inclusion in the government relief plan.

In response to our concerns, many of New York City’s elected officials have appealed to the Administration in Washington D. C. for relief for co-ops and condos.  Their joint letter can be found in its entirety here.

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COVID-19 and New Building Protocols for Co-ops & Condos

As we slowly begin to recover from the COVID-19 menace, boards of directors are faced with the challenge of remodeling the way that residents enjoy their buildings.  We are grateful to the law firm of Armstrong Teasdale for putting together an excellent set of guidelines that boards can use, at their discretion, in order to model new building protocols.  The Armstrong Teasdale publication begins, “As New York begins to transition from a nearly complete lockdown to less stringent rules, each condominium and cooperative Board should consider compiling protocols to preserve good health and order in their buildings”. “Under all circumstances, Boards should comply with law and any Executive Orders in place”. 

“But, every Board should recognize that even if governmental agencies allow certain activities to resume, the Board does not have to allow the activity immediately. Each Board must take the actions they believe best serve their residents within their authority as a Board”.

You can read the entire, comprehensive set of recommended protocols here.

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Virtual Annual Meetings during COVID-19

Recognizing that even as we individually face the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have accepted responsibilities as members of boards of directors that we must continue to fulfill.

Annual Meetings and elections are a regular way of life for co-operatives and condominiums, and the current restrictions on large gatherings of people obviously prohibit adhering to normal protocols.

Some boards are exercising their right to postpone meetings.  Others are venturing into the world of virtual meetings and elections.
A recently published article in Habitat Weekly describes how to hold these functions.

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Buying & Selling Co-ops and Condos during COVID-19

“Among those watching the markets and trying to keep transactions moving while protecting themselves against infection are buyers, sellers, brokers, banks, appraisers, and other parties crucial to the processing of mortgages for co-op and condo units. They’re all navigating a profoundly altered landscape without much of a roadmap”.  Read more in an article published in The Cooperator.

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‘Tis the (COVID-19) Season for Annual Elections

At this moment we all are focused primarily on trying to survive the insidious coronavirus, even as we are aware of our obligations as elected directors of co-operative and condominium residences.

Annual elections to boards of directors are often held in May and June; and hence, questions currently abound regarding what to do about mandated and previously calendared annual meetings and elections in each individual building while we are under the Executive Orders that restrict public gatherings.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the following guidelines may be helpful:

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PPP Update

Once they received information about certain government COVID-19 relief programs, some co-ops and condos were quick to apply for the support that was offered.  Others believed they were not qualified and so they did not apply.  As we have become increasingly aware, our legislatures often fail to recognize co-ops and condos, one way or another…

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COVID-19 Update for Co-ops & Condos as Employers

The New York Governor’s Executive Order 202.16, issued on April 12, 2020, has now made it mandatory (as of 8:00 p.m. on April 15, 2020) for all essential employees who come into direct contact with customers or members of the public to wear “face coverings.” While many have already opted to undertake this precautionary measure, Governor Cuomo has now made it a requirement for certain (“essential”) employees.  Significantly, the employees of cooperatives, condominiums and other multiple dwellings are considered essential

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Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) became effective on April 1,2020.

Among other requirements, FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide expanded paid leave pursuant to the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and paid sick leave benefits pursuant to the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, in addition to existing paid leave, to those employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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NYC Provides Relief for Certain Small Businesses Adversely Affected by COVID-19

As we complete the first month of New York State’s PAUSE response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses, particularly including certain cooperative apartments buildings are now beginning to feel the “pinch” of decreased revenue resulting from laid-off or furloughed residents who are not able to meet their monthly obligations. Arguably, there are many paths…

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Coronavirus in the Workplace — What Co-op & Condo Boards Need to Know

During these difficult times, we are all concerned about our health and safety.  There are also many issues regarding COVID-19 that co-op and condo boards, as employers, must consider beyond their personal safety and the health of their residents.

How must we respond to an employee who appears ill at work?
Should boards test their employees for the virus?
Can an employee refuse to come to work because a resident is quarantined?
Many legal and contractual questions should be reviewed by all boards of directors and building managers.

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