COVID-19 Disaster Preparedness Plan
PENSACOLA (March 26, 2020) –
According to the guidance provided by the US Department of Homeland Security, Closing and Settlement Offices have been determined to be an Essential Business that can stay open and handle closings. https://www.alta.org/news/news.cfm?20200323-Title-and-Settlement-Considered-Essential-Under-Shelter-in-place-Orders
If you have a closing, and plan to arrive at our office in person, Clark Partington has implemented a couple of policies and procedures. If you elect, certain of our offices are able to handle a closing without you leaving the confines of your vehicle. For more information, please discuss with your point of contact at our Firm and ask for our “Drive Up” signing availability, and procedures. If you need to enter our office, we offer the following Operational Best Practices and Safe Closing Protocols:
- Arriving to a Closing: Guests are encouraged to use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands upon arrival.
- Stagger/Split Closings: Closing will be staggered (30 minutes) to minimize the number of customers in waiting rooms. Buyer and seller closings will be split.
- Reduce Attendees at Closing: Only signers to the transaction will be allowed in the office. We ask that agents and lenders attend only by conference call. Family and friends are asked to respect the need for social distancing.
- Reduce Time Needed in Office: We do use electronic and other means to perform as many functions as possible. We will make every effort to send papers in advance for review.
- Symptomatic Clients: Any guest who exhibits symptoms that may be like coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) must notify staff upon arrival so they can be escorted out of common areas into a private closing room.
- Post-Closing Disinfecting: After each closing, the chairs, table and door handle will be wiped down with disinfecting wipes or bleach solution.
- Closing Table Items: We have removed pens, paper, extra reading glasses and other items normally found on the closing tables. We will distribute new pens to each closing participant and we don’t reuse them.
- Lobby Items: We have removed all reading materials, ceramic mugs and other re-usable items.
- Hand Sanitizer: We will provide hand sanitizer in closing spaces. We ask employees and visitors to wash their hands before and after any closing or other meeting.
- General Environmental Cleaning: Cleaning personnel will use appropriate germ-killing solutions when cleaning office areas after-hours.
- Social Distancing: When possible, stay approximately six feet from others.
- Workforce Dispersion: We have invested in technology solutions that allow employees to work from remote locations, assuring production and service continuity.
- Developing Travel Protocols: We have issued guidelines whereby all employees notify management if employees have traveled recently or have travel planned in the coming weeks. Any employees who have or will travel are to self-quarantine for two weeks following their return.
Parties that must physically attend a closing can sign a Visitor Health Screening Questionnaire. We will use the form provided by the National Notary Association and recommended by the American Land Title Association (ALTA): https://blog.alta.org/2020/03/nna-develops-health-disclosures-for-signers-borrowers.html
Federal and State governments are working on enabling the use of remote online notarization (RON) as soon as possible to avoid in-person closings, along with implementing electronic recording where not yet available. Fortunately, a majority of the jurisdictions we operate in allow RON and e-recording. For more information we direct you to the following ALTA article: https://blog.alta.org/2020/03/title-settlement-companies-develop-safe-closing-protocols.html
The main contacts for our office will be your attorney, closing coordinator and/or paralegal assisting you. Each will be in contact with you to discuss the specific protocols for your matter. Please reach out to them by email or phone for instructions to assist you and your specific needs. We look forward to assisting you in these trying times.
Download a printable PDF of Clark Partington’s Closing and Settlement Services – COVID-19 Disaster Preparedness Plan.
Charles F. James is a shareholder in the real estate department. He provides reasoned and efficient analysis in real estate development, finance, and corporate transactions. Charles is admitted to practice law in both Florida and Alabama. Contact Charles at (850) 436-6466 or email@example.com.
About Clark Partington:
Clark Partington is the largest business focused firm in the Florida panhandle with offices in Pensacola, Destin, Grayton Beach & Tallahassee. The firm also maintains a presence in South Alabama with an Orange Beach office. Since 1976 Clark Partington has grown to over forty lawyers and has served the people and businesses of Florida through an innovative and collaborative approach to practicing law. Our lawyers are consistently recognized for their service to the profession and excellence in the courtroom. More information about the firm’s practice, its attorneys, and recognitions may be found at www.clarkpartington.com.