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Condominium Governance: For Emergency Use Only

by Anita Byer, President - The Human Equation on 10/9/2012
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During an emergency, decisions need to be made fast. There usually isn’t time to go “by the book.” This is why Florida’s Condominium Act authorizes association boards to exercise additional emergency powers when:

  1. the Governor declares a state of emergency;
  2. the condominium is located within the area covered by the state of emergency; and
  3. the emergency powers are needed to respond to damage caused by the event which lead to the state of emergency.

If all these requirements are met, and provided they are not specifically prohibited by the association’s declaration, articles or bylaws, a condominium board may:

  • Conduct board and membership meetings with whatever notice is deemed reasonable under the circumstances. This flexibility also applies to notice of board decisions.
  • Cancel or reschedule association meetings.
  • Name assistant officers to accommodate for the incapacity or unavailability of any other officers.
  • Relocate the association's principal office or designate alternative principal offices.
  • Enter into agreements with local counties and municipalities for debris removal.
  • Implement a disaster plan, which may include shutting down elevators, electricity, water, sewer, security systems or air conditioners.
  • Deny access to any portion of the condominium property to protect the health, safety or welfare of others if advised by emergency management officials or licensed professionals.
  • Require evacuation pursuant to a mandatory evacuation order. The condominium association will be immune from liability for injury arising from the failure or refusal of an owner or occupant to evacuate the condominium property.
  • Determine whether the condominium property can be safely inhabited or occupied if advised by emergency management officials or licensed professionals.
  • Mitigate damage, including controlling the spread of mold or mildew, by contracting for the removal of personal property, wet drywall, insulation, carpet, cabinetry, or other fixtures, even if the unit owner is obligated to insure or replace them.
  • Enter into contracts for items or services on behalf of unit owners to prevent further damage to condominium property, such as drying units, boarding windows or doors, and replacing damaged air conditioners. Actual costs can be recovered from unit owners with the association’s lien authority.
  • Levy special assessments without the vote of unit owners, regardless of any provision to the contrary, or the lack of any authority in the condominium’s declaration, articles, or bylaws.
  • Borrow money and pledge association assets to fund emergency repairs and carry out the duties of the association when operating funds are insufficient, even without unit owners’ approval.

These emergency powers are limited to the amount of time reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the association and the unit owners. They must also be used in a manner that is reasonably necessary to mitigate further damage to condominium property and to make emergency repairs.

If you have any questions about the information contained in this article, or if you would like to discuss how we can serve you and your association, please contact us.

The Human Equation prepares all risk management and insurance content with the professional guidance of Setnor Byer Insurance and Risk.

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