REALTORS® should use good judgment when providing real estate services to people in need of shelter and service locations.
Consider your health.
Real estate is open for business, but it is not business as usual.
Follow CDC guidelines and government orders which can change as the pandemic changes.
Carry paper/electronic copies of your identification, your real estate license, your real estate business card, your brokerage’s business license and any information that government/security may require.
Use virtual and cyber as much as you can while conducting your legal business.
The SC Governor used an efficient process in that he lists "non-essential services" and those services not listed can still do business to keep the economy and society functioning. Currently, there is a SC work/home order and some jurisdictions have additional rules and curfews and some have police checkpoints.
Social distancing, groups less than 3, separate vehicles, and the CDC sanitizing/PPE guidelines help too.
Some real estate licensees report contacting local law enforcement to get permission to cross checkpoints and to practice real estate with showings.
While the SCR lease allows reasonable access for showings, the courts are closed to evictions until at least May 1 and the tenant’s lawyer might argue that due to the pandemic it was reasonable to prevent access for showings.
Currently without the ability to court evict, persuading tenants works best as a dispute resolution. Maybe use virtual, maybe offer a rent reduction, maybe use PPE and CDC sanitizing…SCR offers FREE video mediation for dispute resolution during transactions (and after after transactions) while the courts are COVID-19 limited.
For tenants who have a good rental history but have been laid off due to COVID-19 perhaps consider some workarounds. Maybe current rent is spread out over the future lease month payments. Some federal mortgages will restrict some of your mortgage forbearance options and other mortgage issues if you evict or charge late fees so always review your mortgage lender/government-backer/servicer’s rules prior to taking action against tenants during the pandemic.
Don’t forget fair housing during the pandemic.
If you get pandemic related trouble calls from past clients and tenants and landlords, both residential and commercial, ensure you recommend they talk to their legal counsel and tax counsel and financial planner as there may be some strategies for them to pursue (e.g., strategies used during the Great Recession, government relief, pandemic related strategies, tax issues/credits, retirement fund rule changes).
Posted by: Byron King on 04/08/20 (This information is only accurate as of 04/08/20. You must contact SCR for updates and changes to this information after 04/08/20 as laws and regulations may change over time. SCR 803-772-5206 or email Byron)