The impact of COVID-19 on the business community is unchartered territory for all of us. This unprecedented global pandemic is affecting the morale of our economy and our country, reminiscent of a post-9/11 America. People are worried and business owners are scrambling to navigate through the uncertainties of policy decisions offering assistance.


While the world appears to be on pause as millions across the country have been mandated to shelter in place, business continues to move forward, at a unique new pace. We’re going about all of our usual business, but with the added challenges that remote work can pose, the steps necessary to keeping things afloat financially, and the exorbitant amount of crisis communications your team may be fielding. Stress, anxiety, fear—it’s all trickling into our business transactions and professional interactions.


For those making their way through this fast and furious business environment, a list of do’s and don’ts has been compiled. May they help you reach your goals and overcome your challenges in the coming weeks.


The Don’ts:

 

  • Don’t let these challenging times change your demeanor.

It is easy to want to raise your voice during times like these or take your frustrations out on others, but now is not the time to succumb to this tendency. Now is the time to do what is difficult, and right, remembering that we are all human and all struggling through this unsettling time. So, strive to be kind, courteous and respectful in your business interactions. We are all in this together and what will remain after the COVID-19 health crisis are the relationships that we have maintained and nurtured with others.

  • Don’t ask for help until you know how that person can help you and why you need the help. For example, when you speak with your banker about a new loan, deferment of a current loan, or how they can help you weather this  financially stressful time, do your homework ahead of time. Tell them what you need and explain how their assistance will help you address your financial obligations, and your plan to accelerate economic stability. There is no time to waste in this quickly evolving environment. Your accountant, investors, franchisor, or parent company—whoever it is, use their time as wisely and efficiently as possible. They too are fielding a lot of inquiries.

The Do’s:

 

  • Do think and act proactively, anticipating your clients’ and customers’ needs. Anticipate their needs, wants, questions and fears so you can proactively find ways to address their specific needs. Reach out to them before they reach out to you. Communication is key.
  • Do seek trustworthy resources to get the latest updates and information. There is a lot of misinformation out there in regards to nearly everything surrounding COVID-19. Be sure that you’re getting your information from reliable and verified sources such as trade associations business organizations, chambers of commerce, and city and county leadership. Don’t act on rumors until you’ve done your due diligence and some fact checking.
  • Do utilize this time to review all of your standing contracts & agreements. This is the optimal time to revisit your business operation. Read through all of your contracts and legal documents, including franchise agreements and partnership documents to get an idea of the commitments you will have to meet in the months ahead.

The most important “Do” of them all? Do stay calm and reach out to Patel Gaines Attorneys at law with any questions you may still have about navigating your business in the era of the COVID-19 public health crisis. Litigation, property taxes, debt management, contractual obligations, financial implications—these are areas we are well-versed in. Know that we are here for you. We’re just a phone call away and happy to be a resource in any way possible. Call us at 210.460.7787!

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is in no way intended to constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.

Are you a small business owner who has been affected financially by COVID-19?

Click on the links below to learn about your available resources. We also recommend reaching out to your lender to learn about the best financial options for you and your business.

Multi-Family

Hospitality 

Property Tax

New Protest Deadlines

Listen to our most recent podcast with Rahul B. Patel and Kathlyn Hufstetler regarding property tax deadlines.

The Patel Gaines team is actively monitoring the statewide protest deadline. The best way to ensure, that you are operating on the most current and up-to-date information, is to visit the link(s) below to your corresponding county.

Force Majeure

What are force majeure clauses and how do they work? 

A force majeure clause is a contract provision that generally states that the occurrence of certain unforeseen events or of circumstances beyond a party’s control may excuse or suspend a party from performing its obligations, either in whole or in part. The provision typically describes what events or categories of events trigger the application of the force majeure clause. A force majeure clause may specify a procedure that must be followed to invoke the clause’s protection such as (1) providing notice of its occurrence; (2) advising the other party of the anticipated effect such force majeure event will have on performance and the likely duration of this effect; and (3) taking steps to diminish the impact, or shorten the duration, of the alleged force majeure event.

Does a pandemic such as COVID-19 qualify as a force majeure event?

 There is no way to answer this question in the abstract because reference must be made to the actual language of the force majeure clause at issue, but it certainly could.  Therefore, the first step in determining whether or not the COVID-19 pandemic qualifies as a force majeure event is to examine your specific force majeure clause. In the best-case scenario, the force majeure clause will expressly identify a “pandemic” or a “public health emergency/crisis” as a force majeure event. If not, then you will need to resort to other language of your force majeure clause such as “other events outside the parties’ control” and possibly even an “Act of God”.

Even if the COVID-19 pandemic – standing alone – is not a qualifying event under a force majeure clause, the clause may nevertheless be available on account of the ripple effects flowing from the pandemic.  For example, a governmental order issued in response to the pandemic might make it unlawful for a party to perform under the contract (e.g., a “stay-at-home” order).  Or, the pandemic might cause a shortage of materials necessary to perform under the contract because the suppliers are unable to keep up with demand due to staff shortages resulting from the pandemic.  The bottom line?  If you have any questions, please contact a member of our legal team to determine the legal consequence of the language in your particular force majeure clause or contract as a whole.

What are some things you can do if the COVID-19 pandemic is causing you difficulty in performing under a contract, or if a counterparty fails to perform under a contract with you alleging the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason?

  1. Contact an attorney for legal advice.  Our team at Patel Gaines PLLC stands ready to assist you with all of your legal and business consulting needs.
  2. Check the language of your agreement to see if “pandemic,” “illness,” or “public health hazard” (or something similar) are expressly identified as force majeure events, or if the ripple effects of the pandemic trigger other force majeure events.
  3. Check the language of your agreement to see what procedure must be followed to invoke the protection of the force majeure clause.  If you are invoking the clause, then timely and perfectly comply with the specified procedure.
  4. Assemble documentation evidencing the reason for your inability to perform under the contract, or request the counter-party produce documentation supporting its claim of inability to perform.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is in no way intended to constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.

CMBS Loan Relief Checklist

Are you struggling with a CMBS loan? Looking to see if you can work with your CMBS servicer / lender on relief? Our team at Patel Gaines understands the current effect of COVID-19 and what it could be having on your business. We are more than happy to help!

 

Below is a list of documents you will want to get together immediately to better serve us during this process (once engaged):

 

☐      Current Borrower Balance Sheet dated within the last 30 days.

☐      Current Rent Roll / Occupancy /Reports for the property(ies), if applicable.

☐      Most recent Trailing 12-month operating statement.

☐      Proforma Budget/Operating Statement on a monthly basis for the next 12 months. Please outline the logic used to arrive at this projection. Include any comment about any Franchisor relief that has been communicated to the Borrower.

☐      YE 2019 and Last Two Monthly STR Reports for Hospitality Properties. Weekly STR. ☐      Report, if available, for the current month. (hospitality properties only).

☐      Any outstanding PIP (hospitality properties) or capital projects (all properties) planned or currently underway.

☐      Recent Brand Quality Assurance Scores (hospitality properties only).

☐      Detailed listing of aged (30,60,90 days) accounts receivables by tenant(s) and aged account payables by vendor(s).

☐      Detailed information as to current and future hotel reservations that have been canceled (if available).

☐      Current personal financial statement on all loan guarantors.