Apartment renovations during the pandemic

With the beginning of the pandemic, works and renovations in private condominium units were suspended, causing great controversy during the pandemic.

This measure was adopted in several condominiums for protection, safety and health of the residents, since the reduction of the contagion of COVID-19 is linked to the reduction of the movement and agglomeration of people, in addition to sanitary and hygiene measures.

As exceptions, we had urgent or emergency works, such as water and gas leaks, structural problems or people who need the renovated house to move. In some cases, this ended up in court, with decisions that were well divided.

With the beginning of 2021, many tenants cannot (or do not want) to postpone reforms considered non-emergency, that is, those that are useful, of alteration and beautification.

How can we deal with this situation and ensure everyone’s right?

For some years now, works and renovations in private units of the condominiums have generated complaints from the most troubled neighbors. Dirt gets in and out of people, interdiction of an elevator to transport debris or materials and the main complaint: noise.

According to the SindicoNet survey conducted in July with more than 2,000 landlords and condominium managers from all over Brazil (with the exception of Acre), the biggest complaint pointed out by the participants was noise, with 59.33%. Include child noise, loud sound and renovations.

According to article 1,228 of the Civil Code, Law No. 10,406 of January 10, 2002, says that he, as the owner, has the right to use, enjoy and dispose of his property. And as a joint owner, too: Article 1,335, of the same civil code. This means that he can do whatever he wants on the property, however, but there are limits:

What are the limits?

The limits are determined according to the social and economic purpose, the local rules (attention to the rules of the condominium and laws) and to acts that do not help the owner or the others, in the case of the condominium, the neighbors.

Article 1,336 – IV of the same Civil Code, on the other hand, says that it is the duty of the owner to not use his property in a way that is harmful to the peace, health and safety of the owners (that is, neighbors).

What can threaten or disrespect these condominium rights?

Traffic and number of people working on the works and inevitably walking around the condominium, absence of the use of PPE and sanitary measures, excessive noise, etc.

What are the risks that the liquidator takes by simply prohibiting reform?

One thing that needs to be made clear is that the liquidator is a representative of the collectivity elected by the assembly, that is, he does not make decisions alone. The liquidator has to make the condominium rules complied with, render accounts, preserve the condominium’s services working, and leave the enterprise organized.

How can this be done?

– Plan entry limits for people per unit

– Set up a scale with the days for each unit under renovation, if there are several simultaneously

– Decrease the movement / transit of people due to the pandemic

There will be people who will agree and there will be those who will take the case to court. Whoever shows more reasonableness of behavior with others will win. The law orders the liquidator to take care of the operation of the condominium.

If the supervisor exaggerates and prohibits a work that could have been done, causing damage to the tenant who ended up paying more rent, he cannot put the property for rent and compromised his income etc., there may be a finding of illegality and the condominium must indemnify the tenant in question.

The condominium that will indemnify the harmed condominium owner and if the condominium thinks there was an excess of the liquidator, it can charge the liquidator.

How can liquidators deal with unit reforms?

Professional liquidator Debora Battaglini Ravani, from Cura e Gestão, says that at the beginning of the pandemic, it was easier to manage the works, but now the requests for authorization to carry out reforms have increased significantly.

The worry of not letting any stranger in has passed. And according to her, the work is not always of the necessary or useful type, but of an aesthetic purpose, which could be postponed, but it is no longer possible to say “no”.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a question whether the work was emergency or necessary, but now we are in a moment of flexibility. If the person can go to the mall and the gym, it is incoherent to restrict the reforms”, ponders Gabriel Karpat, director of GK Asset Management.

Debora Ravani also explains that she sets up a healthy dialogue with the owner to conduct everything smoothly.

“I ask the unit that is going to be reformed to prepare a work schedule with the engineer or architect responsible, with days of intense / medium / light noise and divulge it in advance to the neighbors”, reports Debora.

The works could take place simultaneously, once scales were made. Perhaps the loud noise day could be reconciled and warned in advance.

The professional superintendent keeps the condominium informed about the works through a communication in which she attaches the mentioned schedule.

“Putting people up to date on what is going to happen and keeping them well informed, they feel supported and resigned to the situation. The profile of tenants I attend is very sensible. They were understanding and there was no resistance or fights”, celebrates professional liquidator.

How to establish transitional rules safely?

For this moment in particular, it is valid to establish a set of transitional rules to ensure order, maintenance of health, peace and harmony among the neighbors. And the formulation of the rules should not be left to the liquidator alone.

Gabriel Karpat recalls that what is determined by law there is not even anything to discuss, but as far as the collective is concerned, the decision has to be collective. Each condominium has a way of thinking, a necessity. “Use the tools at your disposal”, he says. Bushatsky agrees.

“The condominium decides the rules. The ideal is to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting to define everything. If not, the liquidator can deliberate with an advisory board or even the fiscal council, to share the decision”, guides lawyer Jaques Bushatsky.

If it is not possible to hold a virtual or face-to-face meeting (there must be conditions to maintain distance, for example) and the other alternatives are not viable for some reason, the lawyer informs that applying polls to the tenants is a solution and helps to give a basis to the liquidator.

Some condominiums are making use of other technological resources, such as WhatsApp and video conferencing tools, such as zoom, hangouts, meets, webex.

If there is no alternative and the receiver has to make the decisions alone, his or her commitment should be to do the best possible to maintain the services in the condominium. “If he makes a mistake, he can be removed, held responsible. Against him, there is the eventual excess. In his favor, there is the emergence of the pandemic”, explains Bushatsky.

Regarding public health, Karpat says that the liquidator should not hesitate. “The liquidator is the guardian, you don’t have to be afraid to make decisions that protect the community.”

When the transitional rules are defined, Gabriel Karpat guides on the wide dissemination in all available means: portal, e-mail, circular, WhatsApp, etc.

What are the rules that condominiums can establish for reforms during the pandemic?

Below are some rules listed by the consulted experts that can be established in condominiums for this period of the pandemic:

– Limit the number of providers in the unit according to the size of the property.

– Permanence of service providers (masons, painters, etc.) inside the unit during the entire period, including meals.

– Must wear the mask when traveling in common areas.

– Fans in the elevators to have air circulation.

– Pre-registration of providers through the website, e-mail or printed form: when access control is needed, just confirm data, document, photograph and release.

– Adopt a spray in the cleaning routines, with an appropriate diluted disinfectant.

– In the days of more intense noise, authorize residents to use a common area that is disabled in the pandemic, such as a party room, playroom, rest room, barbecue, etc.

– Supervise the work with monitoring of the number of people who enter, if the time is being respected, access control (entry and exit of providers).

“Each condominium is unique, it has its profile and needs. What works in one may not work in another”, says Debora.

In the condominium managed by the professional superintendent in which there are many people in the home office and attending classes online, it was decided to concentrate the noise stages of the works on Saturdays, when, in general, most people are not working.

It is indicated that the superintendents reinforce some guidelines to the employees of the condominium, such as increased attention to access control through a list of authorized service providers, registering entry and exit times as well, since many have reduced allowed hours.

How can administrators support and guide condominiums and residents?

The condominium administrators have resources and systems so that everything is done in a planned way in the condominiums with respect to works and renovations in the private units. The checklist can contain:

– Fill out the retirement request.

– Receive the renovation project prepared by a responsible engineer or architect who must comply with ABNT NBR 16.280 / 2015 (Renovation standards).

– Observe the collection of ART (Annotation of Technical Responsibility) or RRT (Registration of Technical Responsibility).

– Support documentation analysis and approval. There are insurance companies specializing in condominiums that offer analysis services by engineering department.

– Perform prior scheduling of works.

– Pre-registration of service providers via the system.

– Access control of providers via the system.

– Guidance from the condominium team to prepare the spaces, elevator, garage.

– Disclosure to other residents: a good neighborhood policy is essential to avoid friction.

How can we reconcile the tenants working in home x noise?

The pandemic period brought out some things. The home office was one of them.

Nowadays, “living” includes working, in addition to sleeping, eating, resting and having fun. To work well you need silence, as well as sleep.

Among the measures that condominiums must take to ensure that these requirements are respected are:

– Notify the tenants and arrange noise schedules.

– Encourage acoustic sealing works.

– Provide space in the building for quiet activities while the fit in renovation is with loud noises.

Sources: Sindiconet, Jusbrasil

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