Small Buildings and Coronavirus Business as Usual...With Some Changes

Like people, co-ops and condos come in all shapes and sizes; some large, some small. The lifestyle within a particular building or association is often dictated to a large degree by the size of that building or association; huge, multi-building developments just have a different sensibility (and level of means) from that of a five-story walk-up, or a four-unit independent association. The differences in lifestyle between large and small buildings are even more pronounced right now, as the coronavirus crisis rages on.

Responses to the pandemic have been different depending on a building’s or association’s size as well. In high-rise and mid-rise buildings with more residents and amenities and less space for social distancing, questions may arise, such as how and when to shut down building-wide amenities like gyms and green spaces, or how many people can safely ride in an elevator.  

Conversely, in small buildings — particularly those with fewer than 15 units and no dedicated staff or management — consideration must be given to basic issues, like how to keep the property sanitized, as well as to how social distancing may disturb what are often very tight-knit communities where residents are more like family than neighbors.

Nothing Much Has Changed

Margery Weinstein is an attorney with New York City-based law firm Ganfer Shore Leeds and Zauderer and represents a small co-op in Manhattan with less than 10 units. According to her, “The co-op president reports that the shareholders/residents aren’t really doing anything different since the New York State ‘on pause’ orders.” She says that the building has a part-time super who, along with his crew, is still coming in to clean the lobby, vacuum, and take out the trash and recycling. They are fully masked and gloved, and are paying more attention to spraying the doorknobs and other high-touch spots in the building that are likely to have the most contact with human hands. 

Weinstein goes on to say that “the president also reports that the co-op continues to allow deliveries of packages, including food deliveries.” One new policy in line with the “pause” orders is that all residents must wear masks in common areas and maintain the now-ubiquitous six feet of physical separation between each other.


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