Edito et opinion

COVID-19 creates a fast-changing legal and regulatory environment

Global Real Estate Transparency Index, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on the transparency of real estate’s legal and regulatory systems. The unprecedented scale and scope of the crisis has imposed immense turbulence for real estate investors, occupiers and service providers.

Hastily enacted regulations intended to address a fast-unfolding pandemic have sent property owners and tenants scrambling. New rules to establish how social distancing, virus testing and contact tracing all intersect with existing property and privacy laws are being created in a compressed time frame. Each jurisdiction is undertaking the tasks of policy-setting, rule-making and enforcement differently, while countries with federal systems of government have an especially wide range of new regulations to consider.

When it comes to property law, rent relief will likely prove to be a particularly difficult set of policies to administer fairly and consistently.

Regulatory responses to COVID-19

By the time the 2022 edition of the GRETI is published, most of the new regulations promulgated in response to the pandemic will have been integrated into planning and property law in a more coherent fashion. The legal systems in many countries will undoubtedly be put to the test in adjudicating the gray areas that are bound to crop up when laws are written and enacted in a compressed time frame. However, new regulations are unlikely to present systemic risks to the way that the industry operates in many countries. Property registration, compliance and transaction processes currently used in transparent countries will adapt to whatever new health and safety considerations are required. Service providers, owners and developers who are able to lean into the new regulations by meeting or exceeding local health and safety requirements, along with other ESG disclosures, may be able to thrive in the post-COVID world.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for real estate

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