The Payroll Protection Program (“PPP”) is easily the most generous small business support grant/loan program in the history of the nation.  Essentially, it is a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of small businesses (under 500 employees) nationwide in the midst of the economic crisis borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It launched Friday, April 3, 2020, and on Sunday April 5, Wells Fargo & Company announced that it has “reached its capacity of $10 billion to lend under the PPP.” According to FastCompany.Com, “the bank has only been focusing on nonprofits or companies with 50 employees or less,” the statement read. From Fast Company and Wells:

“Given the exceptionally high volume of requests we have already received, we will not be able to accept any additional requests for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program. We will review all expressions of interest submitted by customers via our online form through April 5 and provide updates in the coming days.”

Many of our clients have wanted to apply quickly to be “first in line” for the grants, and successfully completed their on-line application with various banks.  We have helped them to quickly apply, but generally counseled patience inasmuch as the program claims to extend through the end of 2020.  Thus, we did not expect the grant/loan program would be cut off so quickly and callously by one of the nation’s biggest lenders.  48 hours of applications, which really was about eight business hours, and “poof” they are out of the game and leave their regular customers hanging.

To make matters worse, most banks with which we speak say they are limiting PPP applications to existing customers only. So, Wells Fargo customers may need to either wait or flail around for days, weeks or months to find another lender to process their perfectly compliant PPP application.

We continue to work with clients who are continuing to process PPP applications with PNC, US Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Huntington Bank and other major and smaller lenders.  If you are a Wells Fargo customer who is having difficulties applying for a PPP loan, contact us to help identify a cooperative and open lender.

Attorney Rebecca Heimlich of the Finney Law Firm has carefully studied the PPP and the Emergency Income Disaster Loans (“EIDL”) to help our small business clients access these funds.  Feel free to call her at 513.797.2856 if you have questions about these programs or need help accessing PPP or EIDL funds.

Stay safe, America. We will get through this together.

Two updates this morning on the SBA’s important and potentially very helpful Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses:

  1. The SBA’s Final Interim Rule issued Thursday night has this guidance on the difficult question of 1099 contractors:

Q: Do independent contractors count as employees for purposes of PPP loan calculations?

A. No, independent contractors have the ability to apply for a PPP loan on their own so they do not count for purposes of a borrower’s PPP loan calculation

2.  There have been a series of doom and gloom articles about the SBA’s rollout and large Banks’ reaction to that, such as this article from Politico, and this one from Forbes. We counsel patience. The government is rolling out an unprecedented amount of money for small businesses in the coming 30-60 days ad we suspect they will fully fund that generous program now that they have started it.

Finally, Rebecca Heimlich (513.797.6227) from this office is devoting her practice for the coming weeks to serving clients on the PPP and EIDL programs. If she can be of assistance, please contact her directly.

Ken Meyers of Ohio Financial (513.328.1341) has invited me to do with him a series of video chats on issues of importance in the residential real estate marketplace.  We will be posting them here.

This is the first one on the topic of the typically unwise practice of allowing a buyer to have early occupancy of a property before a closing has taken place. The short answer is: don’t do it. Ever.

That first video entry is linked here.  Here also is a blog entry I have written on the same topic.

Ken is a residential mortgage lender with whom our team has had great experiences and we certainly would recommend him for your consideration.

Let me (513.943.6655) know if you have considerations of early occupancy, you need us to document an agreement for early occupancy, or we can help extricate you from a situation of early occupancy.

 

Attorney Matt Okiishi

Congratulations is due to Finney Law Firm attorney Matt Okiishi who successfully sued today to force the Hamilton County Health Department to allow our client, Amazon Beauty Supply store in Finneytown, to remain open for business during the COVID-19 crisis.

The store, which sells beauty supplies, also markets soap, shampoo, other essential products and, most importantly, the much-sought-after N95 masks. The Hamilton County Health Department, noting that the store also sells non-essential supplies, had ordered them to be shuttered for the duration of the crisis, which for now extends through the end of May.

The business, an existing client of Finney Law Firm, asked us to sue to force the County to allow them to stay in business. We filed suit within 24 hours of first being contacted, and this afternoon our attorneys reached agreement with the attorneys from the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office to remain open. The case was assigned to Judge Jody Luebbers who essentially told the parties to work the matter out amicably.  The parties did so, which included an agreement on the number of customers that would be permitted in the store at any one time.

Channel 12 carried the story this afternoon, and the video featuring attorney Matt Okiishi is here.

“There’s little more rewarding in the law,” said Finney Law Firm founder Chris Finney, “than standing an errant government official up in front of a Judge and making him account for his behavior. Today attorney Okiishi enjoyed that exercise and achieved the desired end for our client.”

____________________

For help when you need to stare down an over-zealous government actor, contact  Matt Okiishi (513.943.6659).

The recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. We recently blogged about the Act here.

These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The US Department of Labor has issued a poster that employers are required to post in a conspicuous place, or make available to their employees on line. Here is a link to the poster:

The rapidity with which these laws have been passed and gone into effect is unprecedented in the field of employment law. If you have any questions or concerns about your rights and responsibilities under the Act, or regarding the posting of the required Notice, please feel free to reach out to us.

 

Thursday, April 2 (tomorrow) at 7 PM Finney Law Firm attorneys Christopher P. Finney and Rebecca Simpson Heimlich will host a free webinar on the sweeping CARES Act, and in particular the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), as well as forthcoming stimulus checks and changes to the unemployment compensation system. Additionally, on the call will be:
  • Employment attorney Stephen E. Imm of Finney Law Firm who can answer questions of employers and employees relating to workplace legal issues.
  • Melissa Knies, Commercial Banking Relationship Manager in the Commercial Banking Department of US Bank, who can answer questions from the banker’s perspective on these programs.
These programs, along with the stimulus checks and unemployment benefits, provide significant assistance in this time of health and economic crisis for the nation.
Click here to register for this free program.
If you have questions you want answered on the program, please feel free to share them in advance here, and we will try to be prepared to answer those.
Additionally, our prior email had a link to an SBA list with only a few qualifying banks. In fact, far more banks are making these loans. The broader and updated list is here.
Contact Christopher P. Finney (513.943.6655) or Rebecca Simpson Heimlich (513.797.2856) for specific assistance for your company.

Here is the Ohio Stay-at-Home order.

Read it carefully, as it is not as broad as the reports of today’s press conference might lead you to believe.

For example, as it relates to Finney Law Firm, and Ivy Pointe Title, law firms, title companies, Realtors, insurance companies and lenders are all deemed essential and thus the purchase and sale of real estate can continue unless the closing of auditor’s and Recorder’s office (in Ohio) and Clerk’s offices (in Kentucky) cause title to become uninsurable.

What the order says

The meat of the order is:

All businesses and operations in the State except Essential Businesses and Operations as defined below, are required to cease all business activities within the State except Minimum Basic Operations, as defined below.

Moreover, all Essential Businesses and Operations are encouraged to remain open. In other words, unless you are forced to be closed, they want you to continue operating and presumably at full strength.

But the exceptions are incredibly broad

Then the order goes on to except or define as Essential Businesses and Operations, which is virtually everyone:

  • Working from home and home-based businesses
  • Food service providers (production, distribution, fulfillment, and storage)
  • The construction industry
  • Building management and maintenance
  • Airport operations
  • The entire utility industry
  • The oil and gas industry
  • Distribution centers
  • Garbage collectors
  • Computer and internet-related companies
  • All governmental functions
  • Grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Food, beverage and marijuana production (including farming, manufacturing, processing, and cultivating)
  • Animal shelters, rescues and kennels
  • Religious facilities
  • Media and news companies
  • Other first amendment speech activities, which would include activities relating to the primary and general elections, protests, and rallies.
  • Hardware stores and stores selling HVAC, plumbing or electrical equipment and materials
  • tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians, janitors, exterminators, painters and HVAC repairmen
  • Everyone involved in the postal or shipping industry
  • Schools that already have not been ordered closed as long as 6-feet of distance is maintained
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners
  • Restaurants for carryout food only
  • All means of transportation
  • Home-based healthcare
  • Professional services such as law, insurance, title and real estate
  • Banks and other lending institutions
  • Labor union functions
  • Hotels and motels
  • Funeral services

It also allows for travel:

  • To visit healthcare providers;
  • To obtain services from Human Service Operations, which include nursing homes, day cares, residential facilities for those with developmental disabilities and substance abuse issues, vocational services, rehabilitation services, adoption agencies, and those providing services to the indigent
  • To shop
  • To go to and from Essential Businesses and Operations

Enforcement

There is no enforcement mechanism for the Order, and indeed the Governor said as much in today’s press conference that they don’t intend to put anyone in jail for violating the Order. Thus, it is aspirational in nature, or perhaps just intended to get everyone’s attention to stop interacting with others as much as possible.

Conclusion

Certainly, the Governor intended something by the order, but given the incredibly broad exceptions, and the lack of any intent to enforce it, it appears to be an attempt to educate the public on the dangers of work and social interactions more than a heavy hand telling Ohio citizens what they can and cannot do in their work life.

Call our any of attorneys if we can advise you on COVID-19-related developments.

Christopher  Finney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wanted you to know that Finney Law Firm remains open for business and continues daily to fully serve our clients.  However, the COVID-19 crisis is deadly serious, and without everyone’s cooperation, has the potential to endanger the lives of thousands of those we serve in Ohio and Kentucky and those we love.  Thus, we are taking aggressive and careful steps to protect you and our team in interactions with our office:

  • We have expanded our use of teleconferencing, e-signature, and other electronic communications to avoid person-to-person contact where it is not necessary.
  • Many of our attorneys and staff are now working from home where possible to limit person-to-person interactions. We have equipped our Team with laptops and other technology to assure the volume and quality of work remains the same.
  • We are carefully sanitizing each office daily, and conference rooms before and after each and every use.
  • We are asking clients not to bring children and any “extra” parties to the office.  Bring yourselves only.
  • If it is necessary to sign documents, we can come to your house or place of business to limit the number of persons with whom you are interacting. Let us know if you prefer this option.

Finney Law Firm wants to “Make a Difference” in your personal life and business for many years to come. In order to do that, we need to protect your health and that of our team.

Thank you for the trust you have placed in us for these many years.

Sincerely,

Christopher P.  Finney

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attorney Stephen E. Imm

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected every aspect of the Nation’s political, social, and economic life. It should not be surprising, then, that it has implications for employers in terms of their legal obligations to their employees.

Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)

One major consideration is the obligations employers have to their employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The ADA limits the inquiries an employer can normally make about an employee’s medical status. So employers must be careful about asking any questions of employees related to the virus. Ordinarily, questions about medical conditions are permitted only when they are job-related, or when the employer has a reasonable belief that the employee poses a direct threat to the health and safety of themselves or others.

In practical terms, this means that you can require your employees to stay home when they are sick, and not to return until they have been symptom-free for a period of time. You may also be permitted to require proof that an employee does not have a fever. Broad, unrestricted questionnaires about medical history or status, however, can violate the ADA.

Employers can require that employees work from home during the pandemic. Note, however, that if an employee has an accommodation at the employer’s facility as a result of a disability, the same accommodation may be required for the employee to work from home.

Layoffs and reduced schedules

Additionally, many employers are being forced to consider layoffs or reduced schedules during this time, due to decreased economic activity. This raises wage and hour issues. In particular, questions arise as to whether certain employees may have to be paid their full rate of pay during periods of reduced activity.

The answers to these types of questions often depend on whether or not an employee is “exempt” or “non-exempt” under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs minimum wage and overtime issues. Generally, an exempt employee has to be paid his or her full salary for any week in which he or she performs any work for an employer. By contrast, non-exempt employees only have to be paid when they actually work.

Also, employers are required to keep track of the hours worked by non-exempt employees. If such employees are working from home, however, the normal ways of keeping track of those hours may not work, and alternatives may have to be considered and implemented.

Conclusion

These are very challenging times for everyone, employers included. Companies should reach out to qualified employment law counsel to make sure that they are not inadvertently running afoul of any of the Nation’s employment laws during this most difficult time.

Whether as an employee or an employer, for assistance with your employment law issues, please contact Stephen E. Imm at 513.943.5678.

There are a plethora of fantastic apps that help real estate professionals ply their trades from their cars, from the coffee shop, from a property you are viewing or from home on their phones.  Each of the apps listed here are available at the Apple Store and are free.  Many will also be available at Google Play.

We picked some we like at Finney Law Firm and polled some of our Realtor, lender and investor clients.  Here are the top ten:

1. Amortization calculators.

There are a host of apps for calculating mortgage payments and running amortization schedules.  The simplest one is “Mortgage Calculator for IPhone” and “Mortgage Calculator for

2. Zillow.

Zillow has revolutionized the real estate marketplace on the ,mobile platform.  It helps Realtors and mobile buyers find properties and their listing and sales information.

Image result for zillow mobile app

3. Gas buddy.

There is no longer a guessing game to find the cheapest fuel for the mobile professional. Gas Buddy instantly identifies the cheapest gas within range of your car or any zip code you select.

Image result for gas buddy mobile app

4. Social media.

Sorry, but it’s a scrum for the best social media platform to promote your business and communicate with your customers and potential customers.  Facebook clearly has the broadest reach, but YouTube, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram each have their audiences.  Today’s plugged-in (or wireless) real estate professional can’t live without these platforms.

Image result for facebook linkedin instagram and twitter logos

5. Genius scan.

If you had house plans or a plat of a development or subdivision, the only options were to buy a large-scale scanner for the office or to drive to Kinkos. Now, the coolest, fast and free option is Genius scan. You download it onto your cell phone, and just take a picture from a desk, conference table or dining room table of a plat and viola you have a clear PDF of any drawing.  This image can later be placed on any computer screen or printed.  It is life-changing.

Image result for genius scan mobile app

7. Dusty Rhodes County Auditor’s web site.

Dusty Rhodes has a nifty mobile app that has most of the property search information at your mobile fingertips as are available on his web site.  In fairness, it looks like it is an off-the-shelf app used by most Ohio Auditors.

Image result for hamilton county auditor mobile app

8. Credit Karma.

Free credit app information at your fingertips. Many lenders and Realtors have their clients download the app to understand how they will fare with lenders.  Constantly updated and reliable, Credit Karma is a great app and we recommend it. There are of course many other apps that can help with your credit scores as well including Credit Sesame, Nerd Wallet and Wallet Hub, as well as scores available directly from two of the credit rating services themselves: Experian and TransUnion.

Image result for credit karma mobile app

9. DocuSign.

Indispensable in today’s real estate marketplace are e-signatures and, of course, tehre are apps for that.  Each of Adobe Sign, DodLoop and DocuSign have mobile apps making e-signing even easier fro your phone.  We recommend DocuSign.

Image result for docusign mobile app

10. Around me.

OK, tihs nifty mole app is referred to as a “LifeStyle App. ” When showing or viewing a property, it tells you stores, restaurants, hospitals, movie theaters, and gas stations near the property. It helps buyers understand the neighborhood in which they are buying.

11. Magic Plan.

Magic Plan is another creative application that allows you to measure and draw any space.  In 3D.  For free.  Check it out!

Image result for magic plan mobile app

Conclusion

These are our top 11.  What are your ideas?