COVID-19 Lockdown and its Impact on Real Estate and Construction

As of January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., a (second  COVID-19) stay at home order was put into effect for all of Ontario. According to the Government of Ontario website, that means, you should only go out for necessities, such as:

  • getting food, beverages or medication
  • going to medical appointments
  • supporting vulnerable community members
  • child care
  • attending school or a post-secondary institution
  • going to a bank
  • accessing government services
  • getting exercise or walking pets
  • going to work, if you can’t do it remotely

Businesses must ensure that all employees work from home if they can.

Can We Still Sell Real Estate?

Real estate continues to be an essential service however, open houses remain prohibited. We must also follow the following guidelines while working in the field:

  • Masks must be worn at all times. The additional requirement announced today mandates that masks be worn outside in public spaces. Put it on when you leave your home and don’t take it off until you get back.
  • Open houses are banned. Full stop. No exceptions anywhere in the Province until the lockdown is lifted;
  • Realtors should use virtual tools first and to the greatest extent possible to conduct all business;
  • Urgently needed in-person showings are permitted but MUST be scheduled in advance. Members should limit the number of people in the home to one group of two people (plus the buyer’s sales representative) to allow for physical distancing. Also, PPE should be worn at all times, surfaces & hands should be cleaned and sanitized before and after the showing, and Members should take steps to space out appointments and manage the flow of people inside and outside the home. Read more about OREA’s safe showing practices here.
  • As an essential service, real estate offices and Brokerages may remain open however the Government has stated that all employees who can work from home should do so immediately. OREA strongly encourages Board and Brokerage offices to close unless it is absolutely necessary to be open. COVID-19 screening guidance for workplaces including Brokerages and Real Estate Board offices can be found here; and
  • OREA is working to confirm the impact of the new measures on ancillary services (i.e., staging, photography etc.) and will communicate that to Members as soon as possible.

How Is Real Estate Impacted by the Announcement?

The State of Emergency impacts real estate in two ways:

  1. Short-term rentals for recreational purposes are effectively closed as of January 12th, 2021. If a booking was made prior to January 12th it is permitted to go forward.
  • Renovations started before January 12th will be permitted to continue but those that have not started are not permitted to start. The government has not indicated when the new measures will be lifted . 

Non-essential construction

Non-essential construction must close to prevent the further spread of covid 19.

Essential Construction Remains Open

The following list from the Ontario Government website mentions the following as allowed to still operate:

  • Permitted construction activities or projects and related services, including land surveying and demolition services.
  • Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector and long-term care, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and
    conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
  • Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, provincial and municipal
    infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy, mining and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
  • Construction projects and services that support the operations of, and provide new capacity in schools, colleges, universities, municipal infrastructure
    and child care centres within the meaning of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.
  • Construction projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program
  • Construction projects and services that support the operations of Broadband internet and cellular technologies and services.
  • Critical industrial construction activities required for,
    • the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
    • significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
    • industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance,
      and/or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to
      combatting the covid 19 pandemic.
  • Construction projects that are due to be completed before July 2021 and that would provide additional capacity in the production, processing, manufacturing or distribution of food, beverages or agricultural products.
  • Construction projects that were commenced before January 12, 2021, and that would,
    1. provide additional capacity for businesses that provide logistical support, distribution services, warehousing, storage or shipping and
      delivery services, or
    2. provide additional capacity in the operation and delivery of Information Technology (IT) services or telecommunications services.
  • Residential construction projects where,
    • a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
    • the project is a condominium, mixed use or other residential building, or
    • the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before January 12, 2021.
  • Construction to prepare a site for institutional, commercial, industrial or residential development, including any necessary excavation, grading, roads or utilities infrastructure.
  • Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.
  • Below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects, such as apartments and condominiums. The Ontario government also provided that businesses must follow public health measures and should review the workplace safety guidelines.

Construction on any project intended to provide either,

  • affordable housing, or
  • shelter or supports for vulnerable persons,

If the project is being funded in whole or in part by, or is being undertaken by, any of the following:

  1. the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
  2. an agency of the Crown in right of Canada or in right of Ontario,
  3. a municipality,
  4. a service manager as defined in the Housing Services Act, 2011, or
  5. a registered charity and not for profit within the meaning of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

Enhanced with:

  • Workplace testing
  • Additional enforcement to ensure compliance

Due to the quickly changing regulatory environment during the COVID-19 emergency, this information may not be current or accurate by the time it is read.

 

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Mark Savel

Mark Savel

As a life long resident of the city, home has always been in midtown Toronto. In creating TorontoLivings, I wanted a place to share my experiences in the city, to educate our clients on the ever changing market, and to show people a side of the City that most don’t see every day.
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