Consumer Affairs issues order easing restrictions for condo residents
The Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs issued an order to ease certain conditions that have been in effect for condominium residents in line with COVID-19 restrictions, agency Secretary Edan Rivera said.
Order 2021-002, which goes into effect today, allows holding in-person meetings and the opening of recreational areas.
“Our priority is to establish safeguards for condominium owners, under the Horizontal Property Act. It was urgent to make some aspects of the Order more flexible for the benefit of the residents,” said Rivera.
“A year after the pandemic, children and youth will be able to use recreational areas, as long as they comply with the preventive and security measures established in the order,” Rivera said.
The new order allows the reopening of all recreational areas at condominium complexes, at a maximum of 30% capacity. If condo boards choose not to open the common areas, they must inform residents of the reasons for their decision in writing.
“If at this point, Boards still cannot open the common areas whose maintenance is paid for by the property owners, they must, at a minimum, justify the reasons for not doing so. It’s at the discretion of the owners to evaluate such reasons; and, if they believe they’re unreasonable or fall short, they’re entitled to file a complaint,” Rivera said.
As for in-person assemblies, they are allowed as long as the maximum occupancy does not exceed 50% and that, in addition, prevention measures that were already included in the prior order are observed. As for extraordinary assemblies held virtually, the order states that if a deeded resident explains why they cannot participate in the in-person event, they must be provided with a way to do so.
“The state of emergency as a result of the pandemic is still in force. For this reason, in the case of extraordinary assemblies, the Condominium Law states that they must be held through videoconferencing,” he said. “However, such a provision cannot serve as an excuse for denying a resident of their right to be heard. Nothing in the law bans holding hybrid assemblies, which is what we’re promoting with this new Order, especially considering the reality of many older adults,” Rivera said.