A city inspector decides to shut down a multi family property relying on Coronavirus executive order
We represent a significant number of property managers and property owners. One of our primary responsibilities is interfacing with the local inspectors, fire departments, police departments, etc.
One of our local municipalities enacted an executive order due to the Coronavirus prohibiting visitors to and from nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, etc. Coincidentally, one of our clients, a national property manager, managed property in that city that was attacked by a local inspector.
The mayor of that city issued a stay at home executive order mandating social distancing. The order was issued on a Friday and by Saturday at 3 PM the local inspector for the municipality informed the client that they would need to be prohibiting visitors to and from the facility because of the executive order. And gave the client two hours to implement the policy.
The client contacted us immediately and upon review of the executive order and the local ordinances it was clear that this property did not qualify as a nursing home or assisted living facility. As a result, it was clear that this property should not be subject to the executive order.
But the reality is that there is a great deal of power given to the local inspector. If the property failed to comply with his order, which was apparently going to be issued two hours later, the local inspector could begin issuing citations. This is a common ploy of municipalities use in trying to manipulate the behavior of property owners and management companies. The inspector then issues a staggering number of citations in an effort to expose the property to significant fines. And certainly to attorney fees. Although there were a number of options available to us, including seeking a temporary restraining order, we took a different path.
Because of our prior work in other matters, we had developed a relationship with the local Fire Marshal. Our solution was simply to contact the Fire Marshal. And after a lengthy conversation explaining the facts of the case, the Fire Chief actually agreed with us. He then told the inspector to stand down. Problem solved.
Although we are very proud of our work as litigators in halting the creep of municipal oversight for our property owners, we are also adept, when the circumstance warrants, to simply build relationships and solve the problem in that manner as well.
Do you have a problem with a municipality question? Give us a call. Let us help. Even if it’s on a Saturday afternoon. We’ll answer.