This summer and early fall, several massive storms struck the United States in rapid succession. Hurricane Ida cut a huge swath of damage from the Louisiana coast to New England. Record flooding, tornadoes, and sustained high winds damaged property in profound ways. In the Northeast, Hurricane Ida exacerbated the damage caused by Hurricane Henri, which had barreled into the New York metro area only about a week earlier.
Many climatologists believe these storms represent a “new normal,” and that because of climate change, more frequent severe weather will be part of our lives going forward. As a result, everyone from realtors, homebuyers, and insurance companies to managing agents, board members, and attorneys are now grappling with how to protect properties from future storms.
Condominiums, cooperatives, and homeowners associations have the same concerns. Many boards have had to deal with aging infrastructure, drainage issues, sewage problems, and foundation seepage. Some communities didn’t realize they are located in lower-lying areas, and are thus susceptible to flooding. Other communities have had to reevaluate their insurance coverage to make sure they are properly insured.
Some boards have also had to answer questions about whether their associations are required to make certain weather-related repairs, or whether those repairs are the responsibility of unit owners. In some instances, associations that sustained flooding lacked flood insurance coverage and have had no choice but to levy special assessments on unit owners to repair their buildings and units. In others, lawsuits have been filed against associations around claims related to who is responsible for making certain repairs—particularly when insurance companies have disclaimed coverage. Could all this uncertainty and even acrimony be avoided by the application of some common sense techniques?
Below are 10 steps condos, co-ops, and homeowners associations can use to be better prepared for the next weather disaster and potentially sidestep some of the headaches that can result: