Qld Resident Managers are concerned about the requirements for cleaning of common areas during the Coronavirus crisis. Chris Irons, Hynes Legal provides the following responses.
Question: We normally clean all common areas weekly. Should this cleaning continue or will we be potentially spreading the coronavirus around the building?
Our complex comprises of 88 units spread across 4 blocks on 2650 sq. metres.
Normally we would clean all floors and common areas, lifts etc weekly. However, we have been receiving advice that this should cease due to the fact that, not only are we both in the high-risk category, but we also stand a very good chance of spreading the virus throughout the complex.
What is the consensus during this period?
Answer: You need to rely upon firstly the terms of your contract and then, discussions with your committee.
Hopefully whomever you’ve received advice from is qualified to give it. As I’m sure everyone would know by now, there are plenty of people giving plenty of opinions about what should and shouldn’t happen during this pandemic. Many of them are simply not qualified to do so.
I can’t comment on the health or science behind your query – that’s a matter that Queensland Health might have to comment on. What I can say, though, is that there are no clear guidelines in body corporate legislation about what should happen in a pandemic. In which case, you need to rely upon your best practice processes. A committee in Queensland always has to act reasonably in everything it does. Acting reasonably is always different from case to case, invariably though it means making decisions on an informed basis, for the benefit of all occupiers of a scheme and within their defined decision-making limits, such as financial or other limitations.
If you as a committee feel as though you have a reasonable basis on which to make a decision like this, then you may decide to do so but I’d be urging you to ensure your record-keeping about it is detailed and that you clearly communicate your decision to all. On this last point, you might like to put yourself in the shoes of other owners or tenants in the building: how are they going to feel if their regular cleaning ceases? I’m confident at least some of them might feel not great about that, particularly at the moment. So perhaps before deciding to do anything you might like to engage with occupiers about your plans.
If you’re a caretaker, you need to rely upon firstly the terms of your contract and then, discussions with your committee. You’d need to seek legal advice if you are proposing to not carry out a function of your contract, as this may see you ending up in breach of the contract. By all means, put your concerns to the committee and talk with them about it. The committee is responsible for maintenance of common property so it would be their responsibility to decide to cease cleaning if that’s what they want.
This post appears in Strata News #333.
Have a question about cleaning of common areas during the Coronavirus crisis or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
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