Effective June 26, 2020
GUIDANCE FOR REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE PRACTICE
As Illinois regions move into Phase 4 of the Governor’s restoration plan, many of the now familiar safety measures remain in place. While more business practices and activities will now be permissible, this still doesn’t mean that all available options should be immediately employed. With these concepts in mind, consider the legal answer to the questions below, along with suggestions for best practices.
Q. What is the status of open houses in phase 4?
A. Real estate brokerages are legally allowed to hold open houses so long as all of the safety measures can be observed. These include social distancing where possible, with face coverings where social distancing can’t be observed and frequent cleaning. Groups of more than 50 are prohibited.
- When conducting an open house, consider having the owner or listing broker open doors including closets and cabinets, turning on lights and opening window coverings to reduce the need to touch surfaces.
- Incorporate a non-discriminatory appointment policy into “open house-day” procedures to cut back on the number of attendees appearing at the same time.
- Restrict access after each showing to allow time for disinfecting areas of the home previous attendees viewed.
- Consider providing gloves and booties to all attendees of an open house and requiring face masks for all persons inside the home, even if social distance is maintained.
- Consider having an “open house” policy regarding use of PPE for showings and open houses.
Even if legally permissible, brokerages should carefully consider whether open houses are the safest option for their clients, their brokers and consumers. Each attendee brings a different set of contacts into the property. Brokerage policies should consider incorporating the use of technologies (like virtual open houses) to reduce physical presence, especially for the early stages of marketing properties. Use appointments in a consistent and non-discriminatory manner to physically view the property and incorporate the best practices from above, while keeping the number of contacts smaller.
Showings of Tenant-Occupied Properties
Q. Are tenant-occupied showings allowed in phase 4?
A. The legal answer is yes, depending on the terms of the particular lease and/or any local, state or federal requirement to give a certain amount of notice to the tenant(s) prior to showing the rental unit. Any showing, after giving the tenant the appropriate notice, must be done in a manner where all the safety measures are observed, that is, physical distancing, face coverings or any other required PPE, small groups, hand washing and sanitization/cleaning of surfaces.
- Before entering a tenant-occupied unit, obtain the tenant’s express consent before showing a tenant-occupied unit.
A Final Note (evictions and foreclosures)
The governor has extended the moratorium on evictions in Illinois until July 31, 2020. Also, if the property is federally related, i.e. subject to a federal mortgage or federally assisted housing, there is a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until August 31, 2020.
Stay tuned for more changes during phase 4, as we won’t move to phase 5 until there is effective treatment or a vaccine.
List of helpful resources:
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- Community guidance business response
- Community organizations workplace decision tool
- RESTORE ILLINOIS
- Phase 4 Guidelines for Reopening
- Overview of Phase 4 Changes
- COVID-19 testing guidance
- Coronavirus FAQs