April, 6 2020 Published by CCI National - By Melinda Andrews - Davidson Houle Allen LLP
COVID-19: Ontario Government Publishes Revised List of Essential Services
The Ontario Government has recently expanded business closures and limited the list of essential services that are allowed to continue providing services at the moment
The Ontario Government has recently expanded business closures and limited the list of essential services that are allowed to continue providing services at the moment. We previously blogged on the initial list of essential services here.
Under the revised list, businesses that no longer qualify as an essential service are required to close for a period of 14 days beginning Saturday April 4, 2020, with the possibility of an extension as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Based on this update, we have revised our list of essential services that relate directly to condominiums, which you can download here.
Despite these recent changes, our view is that most services related to the safety, security, sanitation, and operation of condominiums will not be affected. These services include, but are not limited to the following:
- Condominium property management services and their staff (which in our view are clearly essential for the proper operation of the condominium);
- Building superintendents;
- Custodian/janitorial/cleaning services (including cleaning staff, private garbage and recycling removal);
- Landscaping services that are limited to services required to properly maintain the property. (In our view, this includes regular lawn care, pruning and required landscaping, but not upgrades like new tree planting or new fencing if the existing fence is functional).
- Security services (including private security guards);
- Most existing concierge services (because an existing concierge would normally be considered an essential component of the condominium’s safety, security, and operation);
- Snow and ice removal;
- Legal services [Note that engineering and other professional services do not appear to be listed anymore. However, it’s our view that they would be included as essential to the extent that they are needed to support other essential services (like essential repairs)];
- Maintenance or repair projects but only where they are strictly necessary for the safety, security, sanitation, or essential operation of the condominium;
While many services that are essential to the proper functioning of condominiums can continue, we reiterate that condominiums should delay and postpone unnecessary repairs and upgrades, particularly if they involve a risk to social distancing (during the work).
Under the revised list, maintenance and repair projects that may not be strictly necessary on existing residential properties (including condominiums) appear to be permitted, but only where the project was started before April 4, 2020.
However, in terms of repair and maintenance projects, our general advice to condominium corporations and Boards would be the following:
If a project was not started before April 4, 2020, and if there is doubt about whether the project is essential for the safety, security, sanitation and/or operation of the condominium, it should probably be postponed. This will, of course, have to be determined by the Board on a case-by-case basis.
Also important to note is that the government has also increased restrictions on short-term tenancies. Where condominiums allow short-term rentals, they are only permitted (if booked after April 4, 2020), if the licensees are individuals who are in need of housing (this restriction does not apply to hotels, motels, and student residences).
We also remind Boards that it is important to establish a COVID-19 protocol that is to be followed by contractors and service providers who are conducting essential work on the property. This will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
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