The national SSA has many resources and webinars available focused on COVID-19 and our industry. Click here to access news about COVID-19 and self storage. Invitations to register for the webinars are being sent to state and national members, specifically, the primary contact's email address.
For the latest information from Oregon on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the governor’s office website and your state’s department of health here. Be sure to carefully monitor the situation and check on updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) www.cdc.gov, regulatory agencies as well as local health officials.
Please also read the letter from Tim Dietz, SSA President and CEO, that provides resources and information related to states of emergency and pricing restrictions here.
11/19/20 - New Oregon OSHA Standard Applies to Self Storage Operators
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an emergency temporary standard to combat the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the workplace. Most of the rule’s provisions took effect November 16, 2020 and will remain operative until May 4, 2021.
The rule applies to virtually every employer in Oregon, including storage owners and operators, who have one or more employees. The rule requires every workplace to do the following:
- Post the “COVID-19 Hazards Poster,” in a conspicuous manner in a central location where workers can be expected to see it.
- Ensure that both work activities are designed to eliminate the need for any employee to be within 6 feet of another individual in order to fulfill their job duties unless the employer determines and can demonstrate that such physical distancing is not feasible for certain activities;
- Ensure that all individuals at the workplace wear a mask, face covering, or face shield. The employer must provide masks, face coverings, or face shields for employees at no cost to the worker;
- Clean or sanitize all common areas, shared equipment, and high-touch surfaces that are used by employees or the public. The frequency of cleaning depends upon whether the workplace is occupied for 12 or more hours each day or if there is only “drop in” availability with minimal staffing.
In a few weeks and no later than December 7, 2020, all employers must establish and implement an infection disease control plan related to increasing ventilation, staggering shifts, redesigning the workplace to accommodate physical distancing, reducing use of shared surfaces and tools, limiting the number of employees, and other individuals in work areas, and providing personal protective equipment.
Also, no later than December 7, 2020, all employers must conduct a COVID-19 exposure risk assessment, without regard to the use of personal protective equipment, masks, face coverings, or face shields. The risk assessment must address several questions outlined in the standard. As one example: What are the anticipated working distances between employees? How might those physical working distances change during non-routine work activities?
All employers must establish a process to notify exposed or affected employees that they had a work-related contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
By December 21, 2020, employers must provide workers with information and training regarding COVID-19.
No later than January 6, 2021, employers must optimize the amount of outside air circulated through its existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system(s), to the extent the system can do so when operating as designed, whenever there are employees in the workplace and the outdoor air quality index remains at either “good” or “moderate” levels.
Finally, the standard has several appendices that outline industry-specific requirements. It does not appear that self storage is covered by those supplemental sections; however, each operator should review those sections independently and make that determination.
ORSSA members who have not already implemented the required measures that became effective on November 16, 2020 should do so immediately. Consultation with your legal counsel and industrial hygiene / occupational safety experts is strongly advised to ensure compliance.
Storage Operators Must Comply With New Oregon Workplace Law - 11/09/2020
The Workplace Fairness Act (WFA) took effect on October 1. Among other requirements, the new law mandates that all Oregon employers, including self storage operators, have a written anti-harassment policy. The law also limits the ability to include certain clauses in separation, settlement, or severance agreements. Finally, it also extends the statute of limitations to bring a claim of harassment from one to five years.
First, every employer must adopt a written policy containing procedures and practices for the reduction and prevention of discrimination, including sexual assault and discrimination. At a minimum, the policy must:
- Provide a process for an employee to report prohibited conduct;
- Identify the individual designated by the employer who is responsible for receiving reports of prohibited conduct, including an individual designated as an alternate to receive such reports;
- Include the statute of limitations period applicable to an employee’s right of action for alleging unlawful conduct;
- Include a statement that an employer may not require or coerce an employee to enter into a nondisclosure or nondisparagement agreement, including a description of the meaning of those terms;
- Include an explanation that an employee claiming to be aggrieved may voluntarily request to enter into an agreement, including a statement that explains that the employee has at least seven (7) days to revoke the agreement; and
- Include a statement that advises employers and employees to document any incidents involving prohibited conduct, including sexual assault.
An employer must make the policy available to employees within the workplace and provide a copy of the policy to each employee at the time of hire.
Second, it is an unlawful practice for an employer to enter into an agreement with an employee that contains either a nondisclosure provision or a nondisparagement provision that has the effect of preventing the employee from disclosure or discussing conduct that constitutes discrimination.
The following types of provisions may be included in a settlement, separation, or severance agreement only when requested by the employee claiming to be aggrieved:
- A provision that prevents the disclosure of factual information relating to a claim of discrimination or conduct that constitutes sexual assault;
- A no-rehire provision that prohibits the employee from seeking reemployment with the employer as a term or condition of the agreement; and,
- A provision regarding the employee’s right to revoke the agreement within seven (7) days after executing the agreement.
ORSSA members should review the law carefully and work with their legal counsel to implement all of the required measures, if they have not already done so.
Commercial Eviction Moratorium Ends, But Continues to Affect Lien Remedy - 10/23/20
ORSSA previously informed you that Governor Brown signed a bill imposing a commercial tenant eviction moratorium until September 30, 2020. Although this bill did not expressly mention self storage, it contained broad language that may affect lien sales, lockouts, and late fees.
The Governor allowed the commercial eviction moratorium to end of September 30. However, the bill provides an extended repayment period for payments missed between April 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020. Tenants have until March 31, 2021 to repay the amounts missed during that time.
Importantly, self storage operators may follow the usual lien timeline against tenants who miss rent in October 2020 or later or who missed rent before April 1, 2020.
Oregon Legislature Extends and Expands Eviction Moratorium - 06/30/2020
The Oregon legislature has approved, and Governor Brown, is expected to sign a bill to extend the state’s eviction moratorium. Although this bill does not expressly mention self storage, it contains broad language that may prohibit self storage lien sales, lockouts, and late fees through at least September 30, 2020. Oregon operators should consult with legal counsel before proceeding with lien sales in the state.
The bill prohibits landlords from “taking any action that would interfere with a tenant’s possession or use of a rental unit based on a tenant’s nonpayment.” The bill also prohibits landlords from “imposing a late fee or other penalty on a tenant for nonpayment under this section.”
Unlike the Governor’s previous order, this bill does not require the tenant to provide a COVID-related reason for non-payment. In fact, the tenant does not need to provide any reason for or notice when missing a payment. The tenant has until March 31, 2021 to repay any payments missed between April 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020. Importantly, however, landlords may follow the usual timeline against tenants who miss rent in October 2020 or later.
Finally, the bill does not apply to payments missed before April 1, 2020. Operators may be able to proceed with lien sales against those tenants, but, again, should consult with legal counsel before doing so.
Please email Joe Doherty with any questions.
03/30/2020 - New Leave Law to Impact Storage Industry, Effective April 1
As reported last week, the new federal leave law takes effect on April 1. Employers must provide notice to their employees immediately if they have not done so already. The notice can be found here.
SSA’s updated FAQs can be found here. The updated FAQs answer questions on issues such as the posting requirements for the notice and the limited exemption available to employers with fewer than 50 employees.
The Department of Labor’s complete FAQs can be found here.
Employers are strongly encouraged to discuss the new law with their legal counsel. Please email Joe Doherty, firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions.
Changes to the International Building Code Affect Self Storage - March 2019
With the support of its Code Committee, the Self Storage Association successfully pursued several key changes to the 2021 International Building Code.
- An exception has been added to IBC Section 2902.3.3 to permit an increase in the location (to greater than every other floor) and maximum distance of travel (to greater than 500 ft) for restrooms. The location and travel distance must be approved by the code official.
- The maximum allowable height of sprinklered facilities made of Type IIB materials (unprotected steel) and Type IIIB materials (noncombustible or fire-retardant-treated wood stud exterior walls and any interior construction) has been increased from 3 stories to 4 stories. The Code continues to have total floor and building square footage limits.
- Pursuant to modified IBC Section 903.2.9, storage facilities are exempt from the automatic sprinkler system requirement if: (1) the total fire area is 12,000 sq. ft. or less; (2) the combined total fire areas are 24,000 sq. ft. or less; (3) the facility is no greater than one story above grade plane; and (4) all storage spaces are accessed directly from the exterior.
These changes go into effect as they are adopted by local and state governments over the next several years. Prior to the adoption on the local and state level, storage developers can request that the code official rely on the 2021 changes as acceptable alternative methods of construction pursuant to section 104.11 of the existing International Building Code.
Please email Joe Doherty with any questions or to receive supporting documentation for these changes.
The Oregon Self Storage Association, together with the national Self Storage Association, is working on a number of issues to protect and improve your regulatory arena. Last year the ORSSA updated lien law provisions consistent with recent improvements in other states.