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Andrews Myers
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Construction
Filing a Lien?  Don't Delay - Record Lien Filings Anticipated This Month
by Katy Baird and Jason Walker  Our firm is dedicated to protecting and preserving our clients’ rights to payment for their work throughout Texas in these uncertain times. If you supply labor and/or materials to a project site you may have the right to file a mechanic’s and materialman’s lien under the Texas Property Code. Liens are filed by the fifteenth (15th) day of the month and must be recorded in the real property records office of the county where the project is located. It is important to note that the county where your project is located may be operating with a reduced staff due to the Coronavirus. Further, we anticipate a higher number of lien filings than usual because of the Coronavirus’ impact on the construction industry. That means that preparing to file your lien early may prevent you from losing your lien rights due to factors outside of your control. Reach out to an attorney as soon as possible, prior to the 15th day of the month, to obtain a lien assessment to determine if this invaluable tool is available for your payment claim.

Why should you file a Mechanic’s and Materialman’s lien?
  1. Liens give you leverage over the real property in a payment dispute.
  2. Obtaining leverage over the project owner gives you the ability to have a two-sided negotiation.
  3. Filing your lien may start a dialogue with the project owner to help the parties come to a mutual resolution.
  4. You have two years to file a suit to foreclose on your lien. As a result, the lien protects your right to payment and affords you the flexibility to give the project owner/ general contractor time to see their project through the effects of the Coronavirus.
At times owners and contractors will threaten that the parties’ working relationship will be in jeopardy if a lien is filed; however, a lien can actually be used as a tool to preserve a working relationship by giving the parties time to come to an agreement prior to filing a lawsuit to collect on a payment claim. Goodwill is preserved when parties can work together to resolve issues and a lien can help you gain equal footing in the conversation while at the same time providing you with peace of mind that your right to payment is intact.

For more information please contact any of the attorneys listed here

To access the previous newsletter on mechanics lien's in the time of COVID-19 click here
Corporate
Update on Dallas "Stay Home, Work Safe" Order
by Sara McEown  April 30 or May 20? Like many of the recent regulations related to COVID-19, orders coming out of Dallas County on Friday, April 3rd created some confusion among residents and business owners.  We now have some clarification:  the Safer at Home Order for Dallas County was extended to April 30.  That Order requires Dallas County residents to shelter in place except for “essential businesses” as defined in the Order. A copy of the Order as amended can be found here. Originally, it was reported that this Order had been extended to May 20, but it has since been clarified that May date applies to the disaster declaration for the area.
 
For help analyzing federal, state, and local regulations that are changing daily, stay tuned to the Andrews Myers, P.C. Law Alerts, or contact Sara McEown via email or 713.351.0472.   
 
Real Estate
The CARES Act and Multifamily
by Matt Cire   Included in the newly enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) are a few provisions that could potentially have an immediate impact on multifamily owners and investors.   
Section 4024 of the Act provides that any properties receiving a federally backed multifamily mortgage loan, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, rural housing voucher program or the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, must comply with the following beginning on March 27, 2020 through July 25, 2020:
  • Landlords of the above properties may not make any filing to recover possession of the above properties from a tenant for nonpayment of rent or other fees or charges and may not charge fees, penalties or other charges to the tenant related to nonpayment of rent. Landlords also may not provide any notices to vacate (not limited to nonpayment) during the 120 day period.
  • Landlords are also not permitted to require tenants to vacate the above properties until 30 days after the landlord provides tenant with a notice to vacate and such notice may not be issued until 120 days after the enactment of the CARES Act.
In addition to the above, Section 4023 of the Act also provides relief for borrowers receiving federally backed multifamily mortgage loans under certain circumstances.  If the aforementioned borrower is current on their mortgage payments as of February 1, 2020, they may request forbearance from their mortgage payments assuming borrower can attest that they are experiencing COVID-19 related financial hardship. If this requirement is met, borrower may request up to 90 days of forbearance, with the initial period of forbearance being 30 days.  The Act allows borrower to access relief for two additional forbearance periods of 30 days as long as the borrower... Read More.
Employment
TWC Responds to COVID-19
by Andy Clark and Tony Stergio The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has taken steps to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, in light of Governor Greg Abbot’s declaration of disaster. Here is what employees and employers should know:
  • If a business shuts down due to a closure order from a governmental entity, it may be eligible for chargeback protection.  When responding to an unemployment claim, an employer should include a copy of any government shutdown order it is under.
  • Additionally, employers are encouraged to state how they have been impacted by COVID-19. Employer tax accounts may be protected from chargeback because of the governor’s declaration of disaster.
  • An employer may also be eligible for protection from chargebacks if the evidence shows that an employee’s work separation was for medical reasons (related to coronavirus or otherwise).
  • TWC is waiving work search requirements for all claimants. The TWC is also waiving the waiting period for those claimants whose jobs were affected by COVID-19. Workers in Texas will be able to receive benefits immediately after their unemployment benefit applications are approved.
  • The due date for first quarter 2020 tax reports and payments is extended to May 15, 2020. Employers may begin filing after April 15, 2020.
The TWC has stated that all information relating to COVID-19 is subject to change. It recommends revisiting this page regularly for updates. 
Important Clarifications Offered by Emergency Paid Leave Regulations
by Tony Stergio and Andy Clark   New regulations for the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act were issued late last week. They answer certain questions which many have had about these acts.

1. Certain Reasons for Leave Explained:
  • Quarantine or Isolation Order by a Government:  An employee may not take paid sick leave as a result of a shelter-in-place or a stay-at-home order if the employer does not have work for the employee as a result of the order. Certain isolation orders, however, have advised certain categories of individuals (for example, by age or medical condition) to shelter in place or stay at home. If such an order makes an employee unable to work when work would otherwise be available to him or her, then the employee would qualify for leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. For example, Travis and Dallas Counties have prohibited people who are 60 years or older and people have certain health conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and weakened immune systems) from going to non-essential group gatherings. Likewise,  Travis County has required household members of COVID-19 positive individuals, suspected positives, individuals being currently tested, and individuals with cough and/or fever to remain in home quarantine for no less than 14 days following the last exposure to an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.  Harris County has not implemented such prohibitions in its Stay-at-Home Order.
  • Quarantine Advised by Health Provider to Self-Quarantine Such quarantine includes employees who are directed or advised to stay home because the health care provider believes that the employee is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to other conditions such as diabetes and asthma.
  • Caring for Son or Daughter:  An employee qualifies for such leave if, due to COVID-related reasons, there is a: school closure, child care closure; or child care provider unavailable.  An employee make take this leave only when the employee needs to, and actually is, caring for his or her child. Generally, an employee does not need to take such leave if another suitable individual—such as a co-parent—is available to provide care. The employee must provide his or her employer a representation documenting her or her need for the leave – such as a signed statement indicating that no other suitable person is available to provide childcare.
2. Taking paid sick leave or expanded family leave will not impact status and availability for other FMLA leave.  An employee, for example, can take 80 hours of paid COVID-19 sick leave and still have all 12 weeks of FMLA leave for a serious health condition or the birth of a child.

3. Part-Time Employee Leave Amount for Paid Sick Leave:  A part-time employee is entitled to leave for his or her average number of work hours in a two-week period. Therefore, you calculate hours of leave based on the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work. If the normal hours scheduled are unknown, or if the part-time employee’s schedule varies, you may use a six-month average to calculate the average daily hours... Read More. 
Important Information on COVID-19
April 03 -- The CARES Act 2020 Update : New SBA PPP Application & Guidelines
April 03 -- Houston & Dallas Extend "Stay Home, Work Safe" Orders [Updated]
April 02 -- City of Austin Accepts GA 14 Executive Order
April 01 -- The Governor's Order Re: Commercial & Multifamily Construction
March 31 -- Texas Governor Issues "Essential Services" Override | Support for Construction Industry
March 31 -- Austin & Travis County Guidance on "Stay Home, Work Safe" Orders Conflict and Continue to Cause Confusion
March 31 -- Mediation Can & Should Continue
March 31 -- More Answers on the Emergency Paid Leave Act
March 31 -- Federal Judge Halts Dallas Paid Sick Leave Ordinance
March 31 -- Travel Restrictions Between Texas & Louisiana
March 31 -- Frequently Asked COVID-19 Questions in CRE
March 30 -- The CARES Act of 2020 Further Explained
March 29 -- The CARES Act of 2020
March 27 -- UPDATE | Prepare To Provide Paid Sick Leave and FMLA
March 25 -- City of Austin Memorandum Causing Confusion
March 24 -- Stay Home, Work Safe
March 24 -- Bankruptcy and Restructuring Options
March 23 -- The Case for Not Triggering Force Majeure
March 23 -- Managing Litigation Delays
March 20 -- COVID-19 & the Market Decline: MAC?
March 20 -- COVID-19 & the Real Estate Market
March 19 -- Texas Governor Issues COVID-19 Executive Order
March 19 -- Mechanic's Liens in the Time of Corona
March 19 -- Trump Signs Law to Grant Paid Sick Leave
March 17 -- CDC Guidelines & The Americans with Disabilities Act
March 16 -- Coronavirus Employment Obligations
March 13 -- COVID-19 & Force Majeure
About Andrews Myers
Celebrating 30 Years in 2020
Founded in 1990, with offices in Houston and Austin, Andrews Myers, Attorneys at Law, is a corporate law firm and recognized market leader in Texas construction law.  The firm focuses on the concentrated disciplines of commercial litigation, construction, commercial real estate, corporate and business transactions, with additional emphasis on related issues including bankruptcy and insolvency, energy, employment and capital formation. A seasoned team of attorneys provides timely and cost-effective solutions to the most complex problems facing entrepreneurs and middle-market industry leaders throughout the state and the nation. For more information please visit www.andrewsmyers.com.
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