Legal FAQs During “Work Safe, Stay Home” Orders 

  • What is the order, and who put it in place?  San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Judge Nelson Wolff declared “Stay Home, Work Safe” orders for the City of San Antonio and Bexar County respectively on Monday, March 23, with each going into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24. Otherwise known as “shelter in place,” these are an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the area. These orders restrict activities outside the home to only those deemed essential or exempted activities.
  • What is an “exempted activity?”  This is work for an exempt business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically allowed in the declarations.
  • Is real estate an exempted activity?  Yes. The city has provided us with clarification that real estate is considered an exempted activity. This means showings are permissible. However, the city strongly encourages you to limit in-person activity as much as possible and when you do interact with others, practice social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines.  In addition, as with all things regarding your liability, you should consult with your broker for further guidance.
  • So I can still do showings?  Showings are permissible; however it is recommended you avoid a situation in which the expectation is that many people will congregate in one location. You should also use social distancing guidelines provided by the CDC. For specific questions, you should consult with your broker for further guidance. 
  • What about open houses?  The city has advised that our members should not schedule “Open House” dates where the expectation is that many people will congregate in one location. For specific questions, you should consult with your broker for further guidance.
  • How long is the order effective?  The order took effect at 11:59 pm on March 24, 2020, and continues, unless earlier modified, until April 9, 2020.
  • Is there any potential for this to change? This is a fluid situation, and developments regarding COVID-19 are unpredictable. There will continue to be potential for change, but at this time, we have been told the business of real estate is exempted from the orders. However, the city strongly encourages you to limit in-person activity as much as possible and when you do interact with others, practice social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines.  In addition, as with all things regarding your liability, you should consult with your broker for further guidance.
  • I have an inspection scheduled during the order. Can that proceed? It appears that under the current language your inspection would be allowed to continue. The declarations say that exempted activities are any activities performing work for an exempted business or to otherwise carry out activities specifically allowed in the declarations. Some of the exempted businesses stated in the declarations include moving services, financial institutions, insurance companies, and professional services. If the inspection is an activity to perform work for these businesses then it would be allowed. However, since this is a concerning time it would be good to first discuss with your client and inspector regarding the scheduled inspections.  You will want to make sure that all interested parties are comfortable with conducting and performing any scheduled inspections.
  • If not, what do I do? If the involved parties are concerned with allowing the inspection to continue, then it would be a good idea to discuss with your client the possibility of an extension of the deadlines associated with the inspection.  Texas REALTORS® has released a form to help address these situations.  The form can be found here.
  • How might this order affect a pending sale that is in the option period? This order could delay many aspects of the real estate transaction required to occur during the option period.  However, this order will not automatically extend option dates. The Residential Resale Contract does not contain any automatic extensions or terminations based on a COVID-19 quarantine.  Therefore, if this situation modifies previously scheduled services that were to be conducted during the option period, you should discuss the circumstances with all parties involved. If necessary, the parties can negotiate an extension of the option or closing deadlines.
  • Am I still able to go into my office to do work, or do I have to stay at home? You should stay at home. Working from home is allowed under the order.  While working virtually from home is allowed per the declarations, the Stay Home/Work Safe order outlined in the declarations, states that all activities that are not taken in connection with the performance of work for an exempted business would be in violation of the declarations. While you may not be able to go out and interact with your clients face to face, you can conduct virtual meetings with your clients, virtual home tours, and other aspects of your business that can be performed remotely. Talk to your lender and title company to see if they are conducting virtual closings. This is a good time to work on lead generation.  With all the conversations about an economic stimulus, interest rates, and other relief packages, it is possible that once this whole COVID-19 thing is behind us that real estate could have a tremendous rebound.
  • Do the orders release tenants from rental payment obligations? No
  • Can I still collect rent from my tenants? Yes. If you can collect rent via online payments, you should encourage your tenants to pay online. If your tenants cannot pay rent online or you cannot collect online payments, your tenant can still come to the office to pay rent. However, please remember to practice CDC social distancing guidelines.
  • Can I do repairs or maintenance to my rental properties? Yes. Both the City of San Antonio and Bexar County orders allow for services necessary to maintain residences.
  • Can I evict a tenant that is late paying rent? No. The Bexar County declaration orders rental property owners to temporarily suspend eviction for 30 days from March 23, 2020. Additionally, the Bexar County order also suspends all foreclosure proceedings until 30 days from March 23, 2020.
  • Can I execute leases and lease renewals? Yes
  • Some Property Management Best Practices:
    • If you can accept rent payments online, encourage your tenants to make payment online.
    • Keep in regular communication with your tenants and talk to your clients about rental payment options they would be willing to offer tenants during this situation. If you consider some type of payment plan, make sure that you check your lease and document all modifications to the lease agreement in writing. Make sure you get all the appropriate signatures.
    • Consider offering virtual property tours.
    • Follow CDC social distancing guidelines.
The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. The information contained in this site is not meant to speak to your specific circumstances or situation and is general in nature. If you have any questions about your specific circumstances, please consult the most current Declarations and Orders from your City and County, your Broker and your clients, or consult an attorney of your choosing. This is an everchanging and fluid situation. As such the information on this site could change and cease to be relevant upon further elaboration from your City or County.  Regardless of your situation, please practice all social distancing guidelines describe by the CDC and do your part to stop the spread of this virus.  You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any specific content included in this site without seeking legal or other professional advice.

 

 

Member Portal MLS Login Feedback