Do You Have to Pay Your Building’s COVID-19 Cleaning Fee?
Litigation partner, Andrew J. Wagner, was quoted in a New York Times article discussing the considerations surrounding COVID-19 cleaning fees for condominium and cooperative leases.
"If the charge is a house rule, which is likely, it’s possible that the rider you signed does not require you, as a renter, to comply. It’s also possible that the condo’s bylaws don’t let it enforce house rules at all, giving you another out," according to Andrew. "So before you cut a check, ask to see a copy of the bylaws, the board’s resolution and the notice that your property manager received about it."
Andrew adds, "If you find that you are not obligated to pay, tell management. If you get pushback, hold your ground. Remember, landlords cannot use a security deposit to cover attorneys’ fees, late fees, additional rent and other miscellaneous charges, like COVID cleaning fees. So the management company would have to take you to small-claims court after you move out to recoup the money."
"Should it turn out that you are obligated to pay, there is still room for negotiation. The goal is to safely and properly sanitize the apartment, not fleece you," Andrew said.
"How is the money spent, and by whom? Is it a special cleaning company that specializes in COVID?" Andrew added. "Perhaps the tenants can find someone to perform a comparable cleaning for less money."