Common Facilities and COVID-19

Many communities have questions about managing their common facilities in light of the COVID-19 virus. Associations need to balance the needs of the larger community against protecting the health and safety of their members. This memo contains general information, not legal advice. We cannot give legal advice without review of your governing documents and your specific circumstances. As with all decisions, your guiding principle is “what is reasonable?” The answer to that question looks different when conducting business as usual versus when in the midst of a pandemic. For all categories below, if you receive notice that any individual visitor or employee is confirmed to have the virus, you should shut down affected areas until they can be well cleaned. Given how contagious COVID-19 is and how long it can live on surfaces; this is anything but “business as usual.” For gyms, saunas, and pools:
  • Consider shutting them down altogether. Failing that, step up cleaning and sanitization efforts. (Clean daily or more often.) Stop all group activities.
  • Post a notice sharing the cleaning schedule, and asking members to clean and sanitize all equipment and surfaces before and after use. (Provide supplies so users can do so.)
For cabana/clubhouse rentals:
  • Given the ban on large gatherings, the best approach is probably to shut them down, although this might depend on the size of the space and the number of people gathering. As of March 16, 2020, all gatherings of 50 people or more are banned by the State of Washington, and the CDC is recommending against gatherings of 10 people or more.
  • If you choose to allow rentals or common use to continue, we recommend against allowing owners to do the cleanup (as many associations do) and instead arrange for cleaning by the Association. Pass the cost on to the owner renting the space as appropriate.
  • Stop all group activities, whether organized by the Association or individual owners.
For laundry and other “necessary” facilities:
  • Clean more often and provide supplies for owners to clean before and after use.
  • Suggest people do not wait in the laundry room during the wash/dry cycles.
  • Prohibit folding and ironing laundry in the common areas.
  • Consider limiting the number of users in the laundry room at any given time.
If your Association has an outdoor shooting range or golf course, keeping that open is probably okay. These types of outdoor facilities do not pose the same kind of risk, nor the same cleaning obligations, as an indoor space. For Associations with restaurants and bars, your decision should balance the potential lost revenue, the employees’ need for work, the size of the facility, the type of gatherings, etc. At a minimum, plan for increased cleaning and sanitization. That said, on March 16, 2020, the governor restricted all such facilities to “take-out” only, so this may be mostly a decision about when to resume normal operation. If you have specific questions for how to manage your common facilities in light of COVID-19, we can probably help you. Please contact us at with your questions.