NMHC/NAA Viewpoint: Congress should quickly enact temporary and targeted liability relief legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic for businesses that work to follow applicable public health guidelines in operations.
Apartment firms – and the essential workers they employ – have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to provide safe, secure housing to the 40 million residents that call an apartment home. And, like many businesses, apartment operators, despite doing their best to follow applicable guidelines, face the potential of needing to defend against an onslaught of frivolous lawsuits related to operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These claims will drive up operating costs at a time of great financial stress in the multifamily industry. The prospect of such litigation and associated, exorbitant legal costs are a deterrent to resuming normal operations and could devastate those entities that have already been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Apartment firms, in following local and state guidance, have been slowly resuming normal operation of their community amenity and corporate spaces. As part of that process, questions have rightly been raised about what liability exposure they will face. NMHC and NAA believe that Congress should quickly enact temporary and targeted liability relief legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic for businesses that work to follow applicable public health guidelines.
NMHC and NAA also acknowledge the important role businesses of all kinds have in ensuring the safety of the American public and are advocating that the liability protections should be limited in scope and preserve recourse for those harmed by truly bad actors who engage in egregious misconduct.
In 2020 alone, over 1400 liability claims related to COVID-19 have been filed nationwide. Expectations are the number will increase dramatically in 2021 and beyond.