New Jersey Realtors & COVID-19

The Current Situation

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools, businesses, and government offices to close in New Jersey. As Realtors®, your business is being impacted in a number of ways, but we're doing all that we can to help mitigate the economic effects during this unprecedented event. This page will be updated as new information becomes available.


 

Per Governor Murphy's March 30 clarification to Executive Order 107, "Realtors can operate and show houses to prospective buyers on a 1-on-1 basis or to immediate families.

We continue to urge our members to exercise extreme caution with their clients. New Jersey Realtors® encourages the use of virtual tools, such as FaceTime, for showings (at the seller’s discretion.)

 

Since Gov. Murphy's April 8 Executive Order requiring residents wear masks in retail stores, New Jersey Realtors® now recommends all members who choose to perform a one-on-one in-person showing wear a mask and recommend your clients  wear one as well.

 

As of June 15, 2020, yes, but all parties must wear masks, practice social distancing and follow the indoor capacity limit of 25% of a building’s occupancy.

Yes, you may continue to work and close your transactions. If an in-person closing is necessary, you must practice safe social distancing as established by the CDC.

On March 30, Gov. Murphy clarified Executive Order 107 with an Administrative Order: "Individual appointments to view real estate with realtors by individuals or families shall be considered essential retail business for the purposes of paragraph 6 of Executive Order No. 7. However, open houses will be considered impermissible gatherings in accordance with paragraph 5 of Executive Order No. 107."

 

A quick note to our membership—We did not ask to be deemed essential; we did reach out to the governor's office for clarification of his expectations on how we were to proceed as an industry under Executive Order 107. The clarification on the governor’s Executive Order was sought only to determine what was permissible for those renters, buyers, or sellers who are in immediate need of real estate services. Situations where there is an immediate need could include: a renter whose lease ends during the EO, end of a winter rental, those who needed to buy or sell for health or financial reasons that existed before COVID-19, those in pending transactions who needed guidance, or a vacant property, to name just a few. As a state association, we are always trying to best inform our members about what is and is not allowable based on the most current state laws, regulations, and orders—we needed the clarification from the governor’s office in order to inform our membership on what was allowed during this unprecedented event. To be clear, we suggest all showings be held through virtual options. As a New Jersey Realtor®, you should not take this action by the governor to mean you must continue your business.

If you are having problems with title or deed searches, please reach out to us at news@njrealtor.com or your local board and we will work to get you answers.

Gov. Murphy signed a bill allowing remote notary on April 14, 2020. 

A-3903/S-2336 (Downey, Houghtaling, Swain/Greenstein, Gopal, Singleton, O’Scanlon) – Allows remote notarial acts during Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020

  • The notarial officer must have personal knowledge of individual, satisfactory evidence of ID by a witness, or two different proofs of ID by the individual.
  • The notarial officer must be able to reasonably confirm that two parties have the same document in front of them.
  • The notarial officer must keep audio & visual recording of the performance of the notarial act.

In certain municipalities where they are waiving the Fire Certificate and Certificate of Occupancy inspections, your client should check with the municipality and consult their attorney for guidance.

 

We requested statewide guidance from the NJ Department of Community Affairs, but they have indicated it does not fall under their jurisdiction. The guidance they offered was with regards to new construction only.

 

If you are still having trouble with this, please contact us at news@njrealtor.com with the problem and municipality you are dealing with.

The Department of Community Affairs released new guidance for fire inspection certificates, available here.

Most municipalities are offering a waiver of the fire inspection certificate with an affidavit. If you are still having trouble with this, please contact us at news@njrealtor.com with the problem and municipality you are dealing with.

Yes. There are five new forms available for your transactions:

  • Addendum to Contract of Sale
  • Addendum to Seasonal Leases
  • Buyer/Seller Release Form
  • Tenant/Landlord Release Form
  • Virtual Showing Release Form

CLICK HERE to access the forms.

If any of your clients have questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic affects any of the deadlines or other issues in their sales contract or lease, you should advise them to consult an attorney about how the pandemic affects their individual transaction.

The Seasonal Lease Addendum can be used for both. The Addendum can be used for new seasonal leases when the landlord and tenant sign the lease. The Addendum can also be used for existing seasonal leases if the landlord and tenant both agree. Please note, this Addendum is not to be used for leases that are for one year or more. The NJ Supreme Court’s decision in the attorney-review case specifically says that real estate salespersons can prepare leases for less than one year without attorney review but leases for one year or more must include the attorney-review provisions. Thus, no attorney-review provisions are required in seasonal leases or the Addendum to the seasonal lease.

No. There is a moratorium on all evictions per Executive Order 106. page three, section 1.

The next deadline for continuing education is not until April 30, 2021. There are no deadlines this year.

The April 7, 2020 EO 128 allows tenants the option to use the security deposit to pay portion of their rent to “mitigate the consequences regarding evictions and accumulation of interest and late fees upon termination of Executive Order No. 106.”

Yes. The association communicated concerns of the negative impact this would have on landlords where there would be property damage.

If a tenant invokes the option to use their security deposit, the only ability for the landlord to recoup the money is if the lease is extended or renewed. Per Executive Order 128: “If, however, the tenant and landlord extend or renew their contract, lease, or license agreement following the date of this Order, then the tenant shall be obligated to replenish the security deposit in full either on the date six months following the end of the Public Health Emergency established by Executive Order No. 103 (2020), which was extended by Executive Order No. 119 (2020), or on the date on which the current contract, lease, or license agreement is extended or renewed, whichever is later.“

Real estate brokerage offices are not considered retail businesses and therefore were not closed by Executive Order 107. Sections 10 and 11 govern such non-retail businesses that were not closed. Under section 2(1) of the order, people can travel to real estate offices. In all circumstances CDC guidelines should be followed, including people being at least six feet apart and wearing masks. Meetings in an office should be avoided where virtual meetings will suffice.

 

In his Stage 2 pronouncement, Gov. Murphy encourages all employees who can work from home to continue to do so during the transition period.

Yes, both the CDC and EEOC have determined that taking employees’ body temperatures is permissible. By extension and as a prudent practice, brokerage offices can take temperatures of their agents. This should be done using the least invasive method possible (preferably a digital thermometer) and we do not recommend maintaining records of employee temperatures.

 

All employers have a duty to comply with CDC, OSHA, EEOC and federal and state laws, such as providing for social distancing, providing PPE, intensifying cleaning, etc.

We do not recommend taking clients' temperatures or asking them to fill out questionnaires. Instead, the office could post a notice at the door stating that no one experiencing symptoms should enter. The notice could also ask all who enter wear a mask and practice appropriate social distancing.

As a real estate licensee, there is no obligation to contact future tenants about the 14-day quarantine that the Governor has requested for travelers to New Jersey from certain designated states. To see the list of states, please click here. If you are aware of tenants traveling to New Jersey from one of these states, you may want to contact them to inform them of the recommended restriction.

REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY FAQs

*Revised as of 6/16/20

IMPORTANT: The information contained in this webpage should not be construed as legal advice on any specific matter. The information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based upon particular circumstances. Each legal matter is unique, and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

NEW JERSEY UNEMPLOYMENT FAQs

*Revised as of 5/22/20.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS:

UI: Unemployment Insurance a.k.a. “regular unemployment” —this is a state benefit administered based on W-2 wages and is not available to independent contractors.

PUA: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance—this is expanded “unemployment” from the federal government. It includes compensation for independent contractors, who are usually excluded from unemployment benefits.
PUC: Pandemic Unemployment Compensation is an additional $600/week benefit on top of UI or PUA. This will be distributed automatically after you qualify for UI or PUA. You do not need to apply for PUC, there is no separate application.

DOL: New Jersey Department of Labor

 

QUICK FACTS:

Maximum benefit for UI/PUA is $713/week

Maximum length of benefits is 39 weeks.

PUC benefit is (up to) $600/week.

During Gov. Murphy's press conference on April 29, he announced recipients of the first round of federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and others not usually eligible for unemployment insurance benefits will be notified on April 29, and will receive those payments beginning the week of May 3.

If you haven't been notified, please wait to hear from the Department of Labor. NJ Realtors® cannot contact the DOL on your behalf. You can find information on how to apply for PUA benefits by visiting covid19.nj.govand type "self-employed" in the search box.

Per the DOL:

Here is what New Jersey’s self-employed workers, independent contractors and others who may be eligible for PUA need to know:

  • The first step to receiving PUA is to apply for state unemployment benefits and be denied.
  • If you have already applied for state unemployment, you do not need to do anything else right now.
  • If you have not applied for state unemployment benefits yet, instructions for self-employed, independent contractors and others not eligible for regular unemployment can be found at https://myunemployment.nj.gov/.../independentcontractors....
  • If you already applied, but did not follow the instructions outlined above, don’t worry. Your application will still be reviewed for PUA eligibility.
  • If you have not heard from the DOL, there is no reason to call or email.
  • Look for more information in your mail or email inbox.
  • PUA claims will be backdated to the date you first became eligible, so you won’t lose any benefits. The first week of potential eligibility is the week ending February 8, 2020.
  • You may be required to produce income records for 2018 and 2019.
  • Additional information, including answers to many frequently asked questions, can be found at https://myunemployment.nj.gov/.../pdfs/CARES_FFRCA.pdf.

You will receive 60% of your average weekly income, up to a max of $713 per week, less any actual income.

You are not eligible if you’re working full time in another position. You may be eligible if you work part time, but it depends on whether your wages have been cut.

If you have any kind of earnings since July 2019, you may be eligible for PUA.

At the top of myunemployment.nj.gov in the blue bar, click “Check claim status.”

Anyone who is self-employed should qualify.

Yes, it happens often, the card got to your address before you certified your benefits. After you certify, the monies will appear on your card (usually within 48 hours.) If you chose direct deposit, you will not receive a card.

There is a new “Contact Us” email form—please use that: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/labor/myunemployment/help/contact-us/index.shtml#email

Wait for a decision and then contact the DOL.

Emails come from a DOL.nj.gov email address. If you receive a phone call from the DOL, they will identify the date the claim was submitted.

Yes, if you are self-employed, you may qualify for PUA.

Yes, you both may qualify for PUA.

The DOL cannot require you to file, but information from your 2019 return may be needed from your application.

No.

Email or regular mail. It is possible you could receive a phone call, as well. Text messaging about certification only began the week of 5/18/20. You will never be asked to provide information via text.

It depends on the reason for the denial, but you should hear from the DOL within two to three weeks.

You get to choose the payment method when you file – the DOL recommends direct deposit.

Though it sounds counterintuitive, the first step to getting PUA for self-employed workers is being denied by the state unemployment system through our application, which may be found at MyUnemployment.nj.gov. Claimants should not be alarmed when they are denied. This is a federally required part of the process to receive this new assistance which is specifically for individuals not eligible for regular unemployment benefits. New Jersey and other states, are still waiting for more guidance before we are able to process the federal PUA benefits for these workers. The department will notify customers as soon as they are eligible to apply.

The date you stopped working.

Yes. PUA, and the additional $600 is a taxable event.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes, but you are still capped at $713 per week.

You may be eligible for emergency paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). Independent contractors or those who are self-employed who qualify may be entitled to use tax credits in the amounts specified in the FFCRA. If you cannot work because have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or you have to care for a family member who has been, you are also likely eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. You cannot access both of these benefits for the same periods of time. Also, this NJDOL chart sets forth various scenarios and benefits you may be entitled to:  https://www.nj.gov/labor/assets/PDFs/COVID-19%20SCENARIOS.pdf

Claimants may be entitled to up to 15% more on account of dependency allowance. The maximum amount of unemployment per week is still $713. However, those who would otherwise receive below $713 can receive additional 7% for the first dependent and 4% for other dependants, but not more that additional 15%.

We have learned through our legislative contacts that as of right now the Department of Labor is authorizing the minimum payment amount ($231) while they continue to work on claims. When your case is eventually updated you will see the amount increase to the appropriate amount based on your income. They are starting recipients out at the minimum amount to get money to those who have been waiting a very long time for benefits. 

The DOL will contact you with regards to providing additional information about your net income for 2019, which will then recalculate your payment. Any additional funding will be back dated and you will receive a new weekly benefit amount. There is no timeframe for these adjustments.

No. A $0 benefit does not need to be certified. When a dollar amount shows you will then need to certify.

Social security numbers.

There are times listed on the website that allow for anyone to certify. Use one of those slots. If you missed weeks, an agent will have to assist you.

No. Receiving money from PPP is considered earnings.

You should report the commission when you receive the money, regardless of when the work is done. Commissions should be reported under “earnings” not “self-employment” since the system is treating it as wages. You can report the commission as a weekly earning. You can only report up to $999 because anything higher will render you ineligible for payment that week anyway. For PUA purposes, any “income” is considered “earnings” on your certification form. If you put it under self-employment, it may cause a delay.

If you are not claiming a commission that week, you should answer no. When you receive a commission check, that is the week you are considered to be working.

No. You will be able to collect benefits from the date you became eligible, not from the date your claim is processed.

Filed means the claim has been entered into the system. (For regular unemployment, the median time is 6 days and 97 percent paid in 2-3 weeks for regular unemployment. Once the DOL is caught up, that will be the same time frame for PUA.) Pending means the claim needs to be reviewed by an agent. Denied means the claim has been ruled ineligible. (Denied is the first step to be eligible for PUA.) (first part) Invalid means the claimant does not meet the monetary requirement for eligibility. (This is also the first step to be eligible for PUA.)

Pending can mean different things, but it basically means it needs to be reviewed by an agent. The DOL is working to adjudicate any pending claims with payments needed. They will notify the claimant with regards to the status with what the next steps will be to claim.

If you try to certify $0, that message will display. If you answer one of the certification questions adversely, that message will display.

No, they will be issued the minimum until they can provide updated information. The DOL will ask for additional earnings information.

If weeks are skipped or no longer appear on their claim, an agent will have to assist you to work through the claim. Please be patient to wait for an agent to be available to help you.

Unfortunately the CARES Act is written very specifically where you are only eligible for PUA if you are not eligible for any unemployment. You cannot choose PUA over UI if you are eligible for UI.

The DOL will not notify you to certify each week. After the initial PUA email goes out, it is up to the claimant to go into the system to certify each week at their designated timeframe.

GENERAL UNEMPLOYMENT FAQs

*Revised as of 4/28/20.

Per the National Association of Realtors®: NO, you may still be eligible to apply for the pandemic unemployment assistance if you have been fully or partially unemployed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Yes. The $2 trillion economic stimulus package provides relief for independent contractors. Read more here.

The stimulus packages provides for unemployment insurance for independent contractors. This is different than regular unemployment and the guidelines and administrative process has not be released yet. Once we have that information, we will notify membership.

You must apply for regular New Jersey unemployment insurance (to be denied) before you will be able to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Your denial is a prerequisite to apply for PUA, as it is tied to disaster relief.  CLICK HERE to get to the unemployment application from the Department of Labor.

Step 1: Apply for Unemployment Insurance.

Step 2: Check claim status often.

Step 3: Receive denial. Denial may be an invalid form, or a $0 weekly benefit.

Step 4: Once denial has been received, you will wait for further instruction from the DOL for PUA filing.

No. Guidance suggests you should not include independent contractors in your loan amount for business purposes. Independent contractors should apply on their own (that application opens April 10.)

The form is not conducive to independent contractors. It is our understanding you should enter yourself as your employer.

The Department of Labor has released Frequently Asked Questions. CLICK HERE to read them. 

 

Unfortunately we are unable to answer specific questions about your unemployment application. However the Department of Labor has three phone lines for questions:

North Jersey: 201-601-4100
Central Jersey: 732-761-2020
South Jersey: 856-507-2340

According to U.S. Department of Labor, "Generally, you should file your claim with the state where you worked. If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, the state unemployment insurance agency where you now live can provide information about how to file your claim with other states."'

Click here to read the entire fact sheet.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Unemployment Compensation are two different sources of funds. PUC is the additional $600 per week (in addition to Unemployment Insurance) that some states have already started paying out. In order to receive a PUC, you must already be receiving UI benefits.

No, the Department of Labor has said that if you already applied through their system, there is no need to reapply in order to qualify for PUA. You should wait to be contacted by the Department of Labor.
There is currently NO TIMELINE for PUA payments.
The Department of Labor has said there is currently NO TIMELINE for PUA payments.

Follow Us for Up-To-Date Information


 

UPDATES

Association & Industry Updates

State Government

  • NJREC will allow for online pre-licensure classes
  • New fire code inspection guidelines released
  • Guidelines for appraisals
  • On March 30, the Governor announced an update to Executive Order 107 allow real estate agents to show houses on a 1-on-1 basis, with a prohibition on open houses. Additional guidance to follow. Gov. Murphy issued Executive Order 107 on Saturday, March 21, effectively shuttering all non-essential businesses and asking New Jerseyans to stay home.
  • We have recommended the following courses of action to reduce the delay and or halting of real estate transactions. 
    • Fire Inspections: to waive, suspend, or modify CSACMAPFEC inspections and procedures for obtaining a Certificate of Smoke Alarm, Carbon Monoxide Alarm and Portable Fire Extinguisher Compliance (CSACMAPFEC) required under N.J.A.C 5:70-2.3(a).
  • Certificates of Occupancy: we are working to suspend or modify the requirements for Certificates of Occupancy, including the suggestion that these inspections be done "virtually"
    • Deed recordings and title searches: we are aware that many counties have online databases, however, we are working to determine what can be done in counties that do not yet have these capabilities.
  • Per Gov. Murphy's office, there is a moratorium on evictions during the ongoing pandemic. 
  • New Jersey EDA announces grant and loan programs
  • New Jersey Housing Mortgage and Finance Agency