How Much Disaster Planning Can You Do Without Increasing Your Condo/HOA’s Liability?
Phaedra Howard, Partner at Hellmuth & Johnson, talks disaster planning with HOAleader.com:
Phaedra J. Howard, a partner specializing in community association law at Hellmuth & Johnson PLLC in Edina, Minn., also believes you should have protocols. In her area, the disasters tend to be fires, floods, storms, and tornadoes.
“Basically, what boards should be doing as far as having a plan in place is knowing the steps and the procedures—whom to call, when, and in what order,” she states. “The process differs depending on how you’re set up, whether you’re in an apartment-style building versus, say, townhomes and whether there’s a community center in the association.
“Residents should know where to go in case of a tornado, such as the lowest level and away from windows, and it’s helpful to reiterate that information periodically,” adds Howard. “Every Wednesday at 1 p.m. here, our local agencies test their emergency sirens. I suggest my clients also do periodic drills, just like schools do, and have a designated emergency meeting area.
“Also, if the disaster will lead to an insurance claim, call the insurer as soon as possible before repair work gets done so you’re not destroying evidence during repairs,” she suggests. “Insurers get picky about that, like did the hail storm cause the damage that’s being repaired?
Especially if you have a large elderly population, collecting voluntary emergency contact information can also be helpful,” Howard notes. “You ask: ‘Whom do you want us to call if there’s an emergency and we can’t get ahold of you?’ That would be completely voluntary. I think that’s a good idea, sometimes not even in a disaster.”