DACO relaxes condominium meeting regulations
By John McPhaul
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO by its Spanish acronym) is relaxing certain measures related to condominiums in accordance with Executive Order 2021-019, issued by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia.
The new condominium order, 2021-002, which allows the holding of in-person assemblies and the opening of recreational areas, goes into effect today.
“Our priority is to establish safeguards for the communities of condominium owners, subject to the Horizontal Property Regime. It was urgent to make some aspects of the order more flexible for the benefit of the residents,” said DACO Secretary Edan Rivera. “One year after the pandemic, children and young people will be able to use the recreational areas, as long as they comply with the preventive and safety measures established in the order.”
The change that the new order incorporates is that it allows the opening of all common recreational areas with a maximum of 30% of their capacity.
The DACO secretary said the new order clarifies to the condominium boards that, if they choose not to open the common areas, they must inform the residents, in writing, clearly and adequately, the reason for such a determination.
Face-to-face assemblies are also allowed provided that the maximum occupancy does not exceed 50% and that, in addition, the prevention measures that were already included in the previous order are respected.
Regarding extraordinary assemblies by videoconference, it is established that, if any resident reports in a timely and reasonable manner why he/she cannot participate in such an activity, a participation mechanism must be provided.
“The state of emergency as a result of the pandemic is still in force. For this reason, in the case of extraordinary assemblies, the Condominium Law clarifies that their celebration must be by videoconference,” Rivera said. “However, such a provision cannot serve as an excuse for depriving a resident of his/her right to be heard. Nothing in the Law prohibits the holding of hybrid assemblies, which is what we are promoting with this new order, especially considering the reality of many older adults.”
The DACO secretary added that “if, at this point, the boards still cannot open the common areas whose maintenance is paid for by the owners, they must, at a minimum, justify the reasons for not doing so.”
“It is at the discretion of the owners to evaluate such reasons; and, if they believe that they are unreasonable or insufficient, they are entitled to file a complaint,” Rivera said.
The new condominium order was declared last Friday, and will enter into force today, along with the new executive order. In addition to the guidelines for the boards, other changes incorporated include the opening of clubhouses and similar recreational spaces, provided that the occupancy does not exceed 30%. In addition, face-to-face assemblies may be held in closed spaces provided that a maximum occupancy of 50% is respected, and that the guidelines detailed in the order are followed.