Becker & Poliakoff

“Hope for the Best; Prepare for the Worst: Preparing for the 2022 Hurricane Season” – Naples Daily News

“Hope for the Best; Prepare for the Worst: Preparing for the 2022 Hurricane Season” – Naples Daily News

Q: My condominium association just sent all owners a copy of a hurricane plan that lists the actions the association will take if our area is impacted by a hurricane watch or warning. If the association is responsible for protecting the condominium building, what should I do to prepare my Unit for a possible storm?

A: Hurricane season is upon us! Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th every year and it is always smart to prepare for the worst (and hope for the best).

Generally speaking, when a major storm approaches unit owners are responsible for taking care of everything within their individual units, including personal property. While the Florida Condominium Act provides authority and guidance regarding the association and the unit owners’ responsibilities for reconstruction and repairs after a storm causes damage, there are several actions that you can take now to put yourself (and your Unit) in the best position to weather the storm:

  • Provide your association with your updated contact information, especially if you will not be in residence during hurricane season. Provide your association with the contact information of your home watch service, if you have one, or local emergency contact.
  • Bring all patio furniture, potted plants and any other personal property on your balconies or lanai indoors so they will not be blown around by strong winds.
  • Review your insurance policies to ensure that you have adequate coverage. Make sure that you have the contact information for your insurance agent.
  • Document everything – Pre-storm documentation may prove to be very helpful if you have to file an insurance claim for damage. Take digital pictures or video of your Unit and personal property showing the condition of your property before the storm.
  • Gather emergency supplies including flashlights, batteries, non-perishable foods, bottled water, and an adequate supply of prescription medication. Have extra cash on hand in the event that no ATMs are accessible following a storm.
  • If you have a vehicle stored at your condominium, make plans to relocate the vehicle to a safe place during a storm. Make sure to fill up your vehicle before a storm approaches.
  • Know your evacuation zone and have plan in place if you are required to evacuate.

Take basic steps now to ensure your safety (and sanity) should a storm hit.

Q: I recently received a letter from my condominium association asking for a key to my unit. Am I required to provide a key? Are association representatives entitled to enter my Unit at any time?

A: Florida law gives your association the irrevocable right of access to your unit in certain situations and circumstances. However, this does not mean that the Board can enter your unit at any time, for any reason. The association can access your unit during “reasonable hours” when it is necessary for the maintenance, repair or replacement of common element or of any portion of your unit that is required to be maintained by the association or as necessary to prevent damage to the common elements or to a unit.

If your association’s governing documents require unit owners to provide keys to the association, this obligation is enforceable given the above-referenced statutory right of access provided to condominium associations. Unless there is an emergency, the association should provide reasonable notice to you before accessing your unit. Given that hurricane season is upon us, it is important that your association has access to a key to your unit to inspect for damage following a storm, especially if you will not be present in your unit during hurricane season.

For associations that require owners to provide pass keys, it is a good idea for the Board to establish policies addressing safety measures such as how the keys will be stored and who will have access to the keys.

Jennifer Biletnikoff is a Board Certified Specialist in Condominium and Planned Development Law and represents condominium, cooperative, mobile home and homeowners’ associations located throughout Southwest Florida including Collier, Lee, Sarasota and Charlotte Counties. She has particular experience in covenant enforcement and foreclosure law, and has also practiced in the areas of commercial, business and tort litigation.