Treb News published on 12 January 2021
Effective immediately for at least 28 days, the province is implementing a second province-wide state of emergency, putting further restrictions on retail hours and gathering sizes to combat a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases. Real estate still remains an essential service, and you can still conduct business following all public health directives and protocols.
As part of these measures, starting on Thursday, January 14, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.
What Does This Mean for REALTORS® and Real Estate?
- Based on the information we have at the moment, real estate continues to be an essential service and Members can continue to do business, BUT open houses remain prohibited. In-person showings are permitted by appointment, but these should be limited to those that are urgent.
- TRREB strongly recommends Members to refrain from face-to-face real estate practices as much as practicable as they continue to satisfy their ethical duties to their clients. We continue to strongly advise Members to take advantage of virtual tools. If your client decides that an in-person showing is necessary, conduct as much business as possible virtually before hosting or participating in an in-person showing.
- Real estate offices may remain open, but must continue to follow the government’s screening requirements for workplaces, although the province is strongly urging every business that has the ability to work remotely, to do so.
- IT IS CRITICAL THAT MEMBERS FOLLOW ALL PUBLIC HEALTH PROTOCOLS DURING SHOWINGS OR IN-PERSON BUSINESS. WE DO NOT WANT OUR ESSENTIAL SERVICE DESIGNATION TAKEN AWAY.
- It is absolutely necessary to practice physical distancing; use personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks; and clean and disinfect the home before and after the showing.
- Space out showings and limit the number at each showing. Keep showings to one family group in the property at a time, and limit to the contract parties only.
TRREB has provided best practices in an open house guidance document. While open houses are prohibited under the lockdown, the guidance is applicable to in-person showings.
The State of Emergency does impact real estate in two ways:
- Short-term rentals for recreational purposes are effectively closed as of January 12, 2021. If a booking was made prior to January 12, it is permitted to go forward.
- Renovations started before January 12 will be permitted to continue, but those that have not started are not permitted to begin. The government has not indicated when the new measures will be lifted.
Additional Measures Impacting Real Estate
- Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
- The Government is exploring all options available to put a temporary residential evictions moratorium in place to ensure Ontarians are not forced to leave their homes under the new state of emergency, and will have more to say in the coming days.
For the complete provincial announcement, please click here. We will closely monitor this developing story and inform Members of any further updates.
We remain confident that you will continue to do your part in ensuring the safety of your clients and the public. You have worked hard to adapt your operations to allow real estate markets to continue to function efficiently while minimizing public health risks.
We appreciate your understanding and compliance.