Apartment firms, following local and state guidance, have been slowly reactivating or reopening their community and corporate spaces. As part of that process, questions have rightly been raised about what liability exposure they face in doing so. This week, NMHC joined over 200 other business groups from across the country in sending a letter urging Congressional Leadership to enact temporary and targeted liability protections for businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions, as well as healthcare providers and facilities from unfair lawsuits related to the COVID-19.
In the letter, the groups explained, “Absent a targeted safe harbor for those that work to follow applicable guidelines, the fear and uncertainty from endless liability threatens to impede our country’s social and economic recovery.”
NMHC members have raised concerns that despite doing their best to follow applicable guidelines, they could face and be forced to defend against an onslaught of frivolous lawsuits, which will drive up operating costs at a time of great financial stress in the multifamily industry. NMHC, and its allied business groups, 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.
The issue is being debated in Congress, with a recent Senate hearing showing the possibility of bipartisan support for some level of liability protections for businesses being included in a future COVID relief package. In the absence of such protections, NMHC firms are encouraged to closely follow guidance from federal, state and local public health authorities and to consult with counsel on their phased reopening plans to ensure they are implemented in a way that protects employees, residents, contractors and prospective residents while limiting possible liability claims from them.
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