COVID19

COVID-19: Updates from RI REALTORS®

Check regularly for new information and visit our
OPEN HOUSE/SHOWING GUIDANCE, REAL ESTATE FAQs and
REALTOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FAQS for more details!

Last updated: 12/02/20

RECENT NEWS & UPDATES 

Current Executive Orders

Rhode Island Commerce announced that the last day to submit an application for the state’s Restore Rhode Island small business program is Tuesday, December 8, 2020 at 9 PM EST. To date, the Restore Rhode Island grant program has provided $33.5M in direct grants to over 2,600 Rhode Island small businesses.


11/25/2020: Governor Raimondo announced that $100 million has been allocated to support Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island businesses during the 2-week pause which began Monday, November 30th. This investment is split into two $50 million categories: support for Rhode Island families and support for our businesses. The first $50 million will go to any Rhode Islander receiving unemployment insurance benefits during the pause in the form of an additional $200 for each of the two weeks.

Another $50 million will go to businesses that will be closed or severely limited during the pause. If you’re a business owner, all you have to do is fill out a simple form attesting that you have been impacted by the pause, and the Division of Taxation will send you a check up to $50,000 to help get you through the pause, based on your past revenue. The application can be found on tax.ri.gov/RIonPause and applicants have two weeks to apply.


11/19/2020:  Governor Raimondo announces 2-week pause beginning Monday, November 30th through Sunday, December 13th

Rhode Island will be hitting Pause for two weeks. The Pause is intended to reduce community transmission of COVID-19 by dialing down overall mobility and reducing social gatherings. Unless specifically indicated via Executive Order, all Phase III restrictions and guidance will carry forward through the Pause. All Phase III guidance continues to be available on www.ReopeningRI.com. Individuals and business owners are encouraged to review the latest community and industry-specific guidance documents online. View a list of frequently asked questions regarding the pause here.

Effective immediately: Social gatherings are limited to people who live in the same household;


Learn about the SBA’s low-interest 504 loan program. See participating lenders.


See the new fact sheet for PPP borrowers that provides a step-by-step guide for PPP forgiveness.


Open enrollment period for HealthSource RI, the state’s official marketplace for health insurance coverage, began November 1. Eighty (80) % of people enrolled through HealthSource are eligible to receive financial assistance. You can visit HealthSourceRI.com for information.


The State of RI has re-issued the Housing Now challenge. Units immediately available for rent across the state are being sought to provide safe harbor to vulnerable Rhode Islanders without a home. Landlords and tenants will be supported with rental income.  The program will pay market rent reliably on the first of each month. Please call 211 and ask for the housing assistance line for details.


Expansions to Restore Rhode Island Grant Program – Small business will now be eligible for up to $30K


PPP FAQs – Updated October 13, 2020.


Treasury, SBA Release Simplified PPP Forgiveness Application for Small Borrowers ($50K or less)


On Thursday, October 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Treasury Department announced the release of a new, further simplified forgiveness application for PPP borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less. The new application – Form 3508S – is one-and-half pages long, and requires the borrower to certify that the amount they are seeking forgiveness for was spent in accordance with the PPP requirements. Documentation must be submitted to their lender confirming payroll costs, employee numbers, business mortgage interest payments, rent and utility costs for the covered period. The new forgiveness application is simpler for eligible borrowers to use, and will reduce the processing time on the part of the lenders.

In addition, borrowers who use the Form 3508S are exempt from the PPP requirement that “Full Time Equivalent” employee numbers remain the same during their covered period as before the pandemic, along with the requirement that employee wages not be reduced.  Thus, borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less who use the new form are eligible to have their full loan amount forgiven even if economic circumstances kept them from meeting one or both of those requirements of the program.  Read the form instructions and the press release.


CT, MA and NY Place RI on Travel Advisory Lists Once Again

New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have placed Rhode Island on their travel advisory list, due to the Ocean State’s increase in COVID-19 cases. The three states join Massachusetts, which restricted travel from Rhode Island since August.

The advisory requires individuals who are traveling from Rhode Island to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or Massachusetts to quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state.

Reminder: People traveling from RI to MA must fill out a “Massachusetts Travel Form” and quarantine for 14 days unless they can produce a negative coronavirus test result administered no more than 72 hours prior to arriving in Massachusetts. Individuals who get a test must remain in quarantine until they receive their negative test results. Exceptions include traveling to work in a fixed office and transitory activities like grocery shopping, etc. Those who do not comply with the new MA travel order are subject to a $500 per day fine.


The Division of Taxation now allows Non-Resident Election of Gain forms to be filed electronically due to COVID-19.    Sellers who are non-resident of Rhode Island normally must have funds withheld at closing to cover potential taxes.   Filing an Election of Gain avoids that process.

www.tax.ri.gov/Advisory/ADV_2020_40.pdf


Federal Order to Halt Evictions Through December 31st. See more information here.


Please be advised, the State of Rhode Island is currently performing random spot audits of open houses to ensure they are being held in compliance with the Rhode Island Phase III Guidelines. THOSE WHO DON’T COMPLY ARE IN VIOLATION OF STATE LAW AND CAN BE FINED AND/OR NAMED PUBLICLY as other businesses have been.  Also be aware that Governor Raimondo has encouraged the public to report infractions.

Please review the guidelines as they relate to physical space occupancy limits, business processes, screening procedures, enhanced cleaning and more in order to retain our ability to host open houses.  Also, please find resources such as screening templates, signage, etc. under General Office Guidance on CommerceRI.com. (Scroll to the bottom of the CommerceRI web page to see resources.)

Properties with a quarantined individual in the property are not available for any type of in-person showing.

MLS Customers should also:

  • Use the Open House Comments section to spell out the “rules” regarding their open houses and;
  • Cooperating Brokers should LOOK for the Open House comments BEFORE sending their customers to an Open House to make sure they understand the rules of the open house.

RI Housing has launched a $2 million program for homeowners affected by COVID-19 who are struggling to make their mortgage payments. Eligible homeowners can obtain a five-year, no-interest, forgivable loan that will cover up to six months of mortgage payments. First -come, first-served. Visit www.rihousing.com/HHFRI for more information.


Is your tenant behind on rent? As of August 6, 2020, the Rhode Island District Court requires a Safe Harbor Housing Program flyer to be included with a Five-Day Demand Notice for Non-Payment of Rent.   The Safe Harbor Housing program provides rental assistance to landlords who are renting to low to moderate-income tenants who are at risk of eviction because they cannot pay their rent due to a COVID-19 related financial hardship. See more information here.

UPDATE: Rhode Island residents no longer need to prove they’ve lost income due to COVID-19 in order to be eligible for the state’s rent relief programs. The $5000 cap was also lifted and the number of months of coverage increased from 5 to 10. Applications for rent assistance can be filed through the Safe Harbor Housing Program.


The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission voted last week to extend an order that electric and gas service cannot be shut off or sent to a collection agency. The PUC’s order extends the moratorium on shutoffs for all National Grid residential customers until September 30, 2020.

The Public Utilities Commission order also extends the moratorium on service terminations for nonpayment for National Grid customers enrolled in the electric or gas low income rate through November 1, 2020. November 1 is also the start of the winter moratorium, meaning that this order protects certain low-income Rhode Islanders from service termination until April 15, 2021.


See the latest real estate/tenant transaction guidelines on the RI Dept. of Business Regulation’s website. 

Also, see what you are being asked to do regarding out-of-state visitors and clients and access the Certificate of Compliance of Out-of-State Travel requirements here.


There will be no in-person meetings, events or classes held by RI REALTORS® until further notice. 

Information REALTORS® need to know:

This page and the links below will be continually updated as information becomes available.

Thank you for your patience during this challenging time. Please check this website often for updates. If you have further questions after reviewing this information, please email covid19@rirealtors.org.

For legal questions, please contact Monica Staaf – General Counsel at 401-432-6945 or monica@rirealtors.org.

Looking for legislative or municipal updates? Email your questions to governmentaffairs@rirealtors.org.

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Leann D'Ettore
Leann D'Ettore

Stay positive everyone! RIAR leadership and staff are all working hard to find solutions for every single hitch that threatens our ability to continue serving our clients during these unique circumstances. Please post you concerns here and we will do our best to work together to make the best of it and find the best solutions for everyone.

Jean Michael
Jean Michael

RI Governor is mandating that as of today 3/22/2020 No Open Houses are allowed. Why is RIRealtors.org saying differently such as it’s at the realtor and sellers discretion to do them limiting to ten people at a time?

RI REALTORS - Staff
RI REALTORS - Staff

Hi Jean, contrary to what you may have heard on the news, the Gov. requested that we ask members to stop holding open houses. Legally, if agents/owners can limit the open houses to less than 10 people at a time, they are allowed to hold them. However, RAIR does not recommend it. Please see here for more information: https://www.rirealtors.org/riar-mls-ask-realtors-to-refrain-from-holding-open-houses/

Monica Staaf
Monica Staaf

Check out the new COVID-19 Addendum to Purchase and Sales Agreement under REALTOR® SPECIFIC INFORMATION on this page. Please contact me with any questions at monica@rirealtors.org. I have worked with Rhode Island REALTORS® for nearly twenty years because I admire you for your entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and the care that you provide to your clients and customers. For those of you who are newer to real estate, please know that REALTORS®, over the years, have survived the banking crisis, 9/11, double digit interest rates, recessions, and many other challenges. We’re all working together – leadership, staff, and you – to… Read more »

Linda Elliot
Linda Elliot

Hi Monica, I applied for unemployment benefits this morning at http://www.dlt.state.ri.us/
I received a notice today from my office manager stating that all licensed realtors had received a notice today to apply at https://covidemergencyuibenefits.dlt.ri.gov/
Do you know if realtors need to apply only to this site?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Regards,
Linda Elliot
Coldwell Banker

Benjamin Newcomb
Benjamin Newcomb

This is exactly why we have to catch up to speed with the overwhelming majority of markets and move to online deeds, SUPRA or other lockboxes, and virtual closings! There is a huge opportunity here to get us up to speed with better technology, increased access/productivity-> it’s time we evolve in RI. I know we are a stubborn bunch, but the rewards are so clearly attainable.

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Kate
Kate

Now that the stay at home order is lifted and phase 1 of re-opening has begun, is the governor still urging agents to refrain from holding open houses?

RI REALTORS
RI REALTORS

Open house guidance remains as it has been. Until there is a change announced by the Governor, RI Realtors is still advising refraining from holding in-person open houses which could result in a situation where people are waiting in line outside to get in. We are hearing of some REALTORs who have been arranging back-to-back showings one day a week. We also have new tools on Matrix which offer live stream open houses and virtual tours. Hope this helps. Stay safe.