What are a condominium association’s emergency powers and when can they be used?

Q: What are a condominium association’s emergency powers and when can they be used?

A: The Association Emergency Powers can be found in Florida Statute Section 718.1265.  Following a catastrophe (such as a hurricane), the Board is granted extraordinary powers, as detailed below.  The attorneys at Kaye & Bender, P.L. would like to remind you that a State of Emergency must be declared by the Governor for the Board to exercise these powers.  These special powers may only be used as reasonably necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the Association, according to Michael Bender of Kaye & Bender.

(a) Meeting Notices:

Conduct board meetings and membership meetings without providing the customary notice requirements.  Notice must be given as practicable.  “Practicable” manner includes publication, radio, United States mail, the Internet, public service announcements, and conspicuous posting on the condominium property or any other means the board deems reasonable under the circumstances.

(b) Cancel and reschedule any association meeting.

(c) Special Assistant Officers:

Name as assistant officers persons who are not directors.   Designed to help the Board operate when any executive officer is unavailable during the state of emergency. These assistant officers will have same authority as the executive officers.

(d) Office Location:

Relocate the association’s principal office or designate alternative principal offices.

(e) Local Government Assistance:

Enter into agreements with local counties and municipalities to assist counties and municipalities with debris removal.

(f) Disaster Plans:

Implement a disaster plan before or immediately following the event for which  a state of emergency is declared which may include, but is not limited to, shutting down or off elevators; electricity; water, sewer, or security systems; or air conditioners.

(g) Declare Condominium Property (or portions thereof) Off-Limits:

Based upon advice of emergency management officials or upon the advice of licensed professionals retained by the board, determine any portion of the condominium property unavailable for entry or occupancy by unit owners, family members, tenants, guests, agents, or invitees to protect the health, safety, or welfare of such persons.

(h) Evacuation:

If the city or county where the condominium is located is under a mandatory evacuation order, the Board can require the evacuation of the condominium property. Should any unit owner or other occupant of a condominium fail or refuse to evacuate as directed, the association shall be immune from liability or injury to persons or property arising from such failure or refusal.

(i) Re-Opening Condominium Property:

Based upon advice of emergency management officials or upon the advice of licensed professionals retained by the board, determine whether the condominium property can be safely inhabited or occupied.

(j) Prevent Further Damage to Condominium Property:

May contract for the removal of debris and to prevent or mitigate the spread of fungus, including, but not limited to, mold or mildew, by removing and disposing of wet drywall, insulation, carpet, cabinetry, or other fixtures on or within the condominium property, even if the unit owner is obligated by the declaration or law to insure or replace those fixtures and to remove personal property from a unit.

(k) Unit Clean-Up:

May contract, on behalf of any unit owner or owners, for items or services necessary to prevent further damage to the condominium property (including units). Without limitation, such items or services may include the drying of units, the boarding of broken windows or doors, and the replacement of damaged air conditioners or air handlers to provide climate control in the units or other portions of the property.  The unit owners are responsible for reimbursing the association for the actual costs of the items or services.  The association may use its lien authority to enforce collection of the charges.

(l) Special Assessment:

May levy special assessments without a vote of the owners, even if the governing documents require such a vote.

(m) Borrow Money:

May borrow money and pledge association assets as collateral to fund emergency repairs and carry out the duties of the association when operating funds are insufficient.