With every right goes a responsibility and that’s as true for property owners as it is for every citizen who values their freedom and liberty.
The Constitution and Bill of Rights are beautiful things, but the First Amendment does not give you the right to shout “fire” in a crowded theater (although you can yell “theater” in a crowded fire). The same goes for property owners whether it’s your primary residence, vacation home or an investment property of some type.
Property owners have many responsibilities and one of the top priorities is paying the annual property taxes. You may have the right to own and occupy the land but there is almost certainly some type of property tax that will have to be paid each year. These property taxes are used by municipalities, school districts, fire protection districts and other entities to provide for the common good.
This is not socialism on a grand scale but rather civilized society acting in a manner to function efficiently and effectively for the benefit of all citizens. We’ll talk more about the common good later in this column.
Other responsibilities include maintaining the physical structure and essential systems such as electrical, heating and plumbing. There is also the need to do landscaping, defensible space, BMPs, and following local rules and various types of CC&Rs.
Many cities and towns have ordinances that are very specific. So, while you have very broad property rights there are generally responsibilities you will need to fulfill that are required to meet community standards.
You can’t buy a piece of land in Incline Village and set up a tent or park an RV and call it your home. You either have to keep the land undeveloped or build a conforming structure within the allotted time for permits that have been granted.
Landlords have responsibilities to their tenants some of which fall under what is known as the implied warranty of habitability. These include drinkable water and hot water, heat during cold weather, working electricity and a bathroom and toilet.
There are other requirements related to health and safety issues and building codes that need to be adhered to. Tenants generally have the right to “quiet enjoyment” of the property and landlords unilaterally cannot enter the premises without 24-hour advance notice unless there is some type of emergency. Rights and responsibilities have to be balanced otherwise there is potential for chaos and anarchy (not to mention serious health and safety issues).
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced agents, buyers and sellers to take on new responsibilities in an effort to control the spread of the virus.
While you are free to sell your property at any time you are no longer free to sit in the living room while your place is being shown to a prospective buyer. Also, properties that are occupied by tenants cannot be shown at all in Nevada.
Agents and their clients must wear masks, sanitize their hands (wearing rubber gloves is a good idea), maintain social distancing and adhere to other guidelines. If everyone did what needs to be done to squash the virus, America would not have 25% of the world’s cases while having only 4% of its population.
The three basic principles upon which our nation was founded in the Declaration of Independence are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The preamble of the Constitution talks about providing for “the common defense” and promoting “the general welfare” which has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean doing things and working for the common good.
It is incumbent upon everyone during this critical time in our history to engage in responsible practices such as wearing a mask when in public places, maintaining social distancing, frequent handwashing and isolating yourself if you are ill. There is no such thing as unfettered freedom in a civilized society.
We encourage everyone to act responsibly, follow the law and current regulations for the benefit of all.
Whether we are real estate agents showing property or members of the general public entering a retail store, wearing a mask when you are near others is for the common good
Let’s all work together to crush the coronavirus and get our lives and the economy back to some semblance of normalcy.
Don Kanare is the founder and Sabrina Belleci is the Owner / Broker of RE/MAX North Lake.