The Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs has issued a new set of rules that condominium residents must abide by during the COVID-19 lockdown and curfew, agency Secretary Carmen Salgado confirmed.
The new conditions included in Order 2020-010 seek to respond to several complaints filed at the agency known as DACO about “extreme measures” adopted by condominium boards and resident councils as a result of the curfew, she said.
“We’ve dealt with several complaints informing us about extreme measures adopted by the Boards and resident councils which in some cases have prohibited access to common areas necessary normal resident life, such as the laundry area, even going so far as to completely preventing non-residents from entering the condominiums,” she said.
Such tight restrictions “weren’t or aren’t contemplated in the Order issued by DACO, so we call on the Boards and resident councils to implement measures that limit the number of people who may be in the same essential common area, such as the laundry, and it is clearly established that no condominium may, in any way, deny or completely prevent visits, even when these are personal, provided that the provisions of [previous order] OE-2020-029 are respected,” said Salgado.
The provisions of the new Order, state that condominiums that, due to their specific characteristics, require special means of transportation to access their facilities, must take the necessary measures to ensure that residents are not prevented from moving around as allowed by OE -2020-029 and/or access the services allowed within the condominiums.
Regarding doubts regarding visits to condos, Salgado said, “the important thing is not to lose perspective of the main goal, which is to avoid groupings. If the Executive Order itself allows access to certain service providers, the Boards or resident councils cannot prohibit it.”
She said, “the same applies to visits of a personal nature, because although access to non-residents could be limited, such faculty does not include completely banning them from entering the condominium.”
Salgado also addressed comments from condo administrators who allegedly questioned the extent to which the Executive Order limits their duties. Salgado said while administrators are not classified as essential staff, “this in no way prevents them from exercising their duties.”
Even under the curfew that Gov. Wanda Vázquez established on Mar. 15 and has extended through April 12, people are allowed to leave their homes to go to specific places between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m.
So, Salgado said it’s up to condominium administrators to “organize themselves and coordinate with their employees what the work dynamics will be like to ensure that the services continue to be provided.”