Q: I am on the board of my condominium association and I am seeking some advice about the upcoming hurricane season. After last year being so active and ending with Hurricane Irma impacting most of Florida, I was wondering if you have recommendations for what we should do as a board as we are once again facing what is predicted to be an active hurricane season?
-G.R., Boca Raton
A: There are many things that you can do in preparation for hurricane season that go far beyond what we can include in this short response, but one of the most important things that you can do as an association at the start of every hurricane season, is work with your property manager to create a record of the current condition of the property by photographing all of the public and common areas of the condominium property. These images could become vitally important in the event that you need to file an insurance claim due to hurricane damage. It is also a good practice for you to meet with your property manager to develop standard hurricane policies and distribute it to residents each year reminding them of all the things they need to do to prepare for hurricane season. One of the unique things about living in Florida is the number of snow birds that go back north over the summer, leaving their units unoccupied. Because of this, your hurricane preparation policy should include having those snowbirds move all outside furniture inside before leaving for the summer. On that note, be sure that you have updated contact information for all of those persons going out of town for the summer so that you can reach them should an emergency arise, including cell phone numbers. You should also remind owners about the importance of maintaining their own homeowner’s insurance policies to cover their personal property within their units and their limited common elements.
One final thing that you should strongly consider is that if you are aware of leaks around the property involving common elements such as roofs or windows, have those items repaired immediately, before we get deeper into the rainy season. Existing damage to common element items that are aggravated during a storm could increase repair costs and the association’s potential liability to the owners, as well as potentially impacting insurance coverage. This repair work could also include trimming back trees and vegetation and having all windows inspected prior to a storm to identify and repair any weaknesses in the frames, seals, caulking or windows themselves. These steps will help to prevent an otherwise avoidable disaster.
Harris B. Katz, Esq. is Managing Partner, Boca Raton, of the Law Firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. Ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.