As of this writing, both Massachusetts and New Hampshire are operating under orders from their respective governors for all non-essential businesses to be closed to the public, and for work to occur on a remote or modified basis (cafes and restaurants serving take-out and delivery only, for example). On March 23, Governor Baker issued this order for Massachusetts effective at noon on March 24th; on March 26th, Governor Sununu issued a similar order effective as of midnight on March 27th for his state as well.
When it comes to professional property management, our firm opines that these businesses are essential, in that they provide services necessary to maintain the functioning of buildings, as well as critical support for necessary operations -- including operations related to managing the coronavirus crisis itself. In fact, under the leadership of our colleague Ed Allcock, CAI New England has issued a chapter determination that property management provides essential services within the community association industry. At this time, our firm is seeking necessary exemption so that we may remain open and available to assist associations and property management with legal services during this difficult time. In the interim, our firm has made arrangements for attorneys to have remote access to our systems so that if need be, we will be able to assist our clients from home.
The conclusion that property management constitutes “essential services” is explicitly supported in the FAQs section of the Mass.gov website on COVID-19 resources. You can review the MA FAQs by right clicking here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-essential-services-faqs
Property management firms may seek documentary verification by applying for a certificate of exemption from the MA order by clicking here: https://www.mass.gov/forms/essential-service-designation-request
New Hampshire Governor Sununu’s March 26th order contains virtually the same language, and is therefore reasonably subject to the same interpretation. Further, the “essential services” list also includes those providing for building functions and the like. You can review the New Hampshire list by clicking here: https://www.governor.nh.gov/news-media/emergency-orders/documents/emergency-order-17.pdf
Property management firms may seek exemption in New Hampshire by sending an email to the following address and providing contact information and a justification for the exemption request: email@example.com
In Rhode Island, Governor Raimondo issued an Executive Order effective at 5pm on March 23rd. Although the order does not serve as a complete shutdown of business beyond essential services, it does require shutdown of public recreation and entertainment and “close contact” businesses. Those remaining open must comply with specific virus-related requirements. The order may be viewed here: http://www.governor.ri.gov/documents/orders/Executive-Order-20-09.pdf
Gary M. Daddario is a partner with Massachusetts- and New Hampshire-based law firm Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks PC (MEEB), focusing on condominium association law. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-420-9475.