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Condo associations ponder hurricane shutters in light of Irma

In light of Hurricane Irma in 2017, condominium association directors are contemplating the best ways to protect units from hurricane protection. Having hurricane shutters installed on all units seems the best way to go, but the question is whether it should be the responsibility of the owners or the association.

The majority of association declarations do not discuss hurricane protection. While windows and door replacements, as well as maintenance and repair for them, falls on the owner, hurricane shutter maintenance falls upon whoever paid for the installation. If the association installed shutters, the association is responsible for maintaining them. If the owner installed the shutters, they usually maintain them.

Regarding community association laws, Florida Statutes (Sections 718.113(5) and 718.115(e)) states:

" ... if the maintenance, repair and replacement of hurricane shutters, impact glass, ... or other types of code-compliant hurricane protection is the responsibility of the association in the Declaration of Condominium, the association may install such hurricane protection and assess all owners the cost thereof as a common expense."

So, one option is for the association to take responsibility for the installation of hurricane shutters and then assess the owners for the costs. Of course, that would have to be stated, as per the Statutes, in the Declaration of Condominium.

Another option would be to require the individual owners to install hurricane shutters. This would take a vote from the board members and an amendment in the Declaration of Condominium that requires the owners to have the shutters installed within a certain time period.

With the number of hurricane possibilities each year in Florida, most engineers or construction specialists agree that it is necessary to protect all doors, windows and other openings from hurricane force winds and rain. Having hurricane protection in Florida may also lower insurance costs to unit owners.

Condominium Association attorneys can provide advice and assistance to the members on revising the Declaration of Association to include the proper clause. Maybe in the future, especially in potential hurricane-activity states, hurricane protection will be a standard in new condo development projects, as well as included in all declarations.


Source: Naples News, "Many condos want to install more storm protection after Irma. What are the options?," Rob Samonce, Feb. 03, 2018

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