Ready or not, winter is quickly approaching and far too often, condominium associations find themselves unprepared for Mother Nature’s wrath. Accordingly, it is essential for condominium associations to plan for the winter ahead, even as the last of our summer tans are still fading.

First, associations should ensure that the condominium’s insurance coverage is up to date and is consistent with the requirements set forth in the condominium’s declaration of by-laws. It is also recommended that the association remind unit owners to have their own H06 policies to cover their own personal property in the event of a loss. Additionally, associations should have a clear plan in place for the reporting of insurance claims to the condominium’s property manager and/or to the managing board, and the association should disseminate that protocol in advance to all unit owners, so that the association will have an easier time managing and fielding calls following a widespread loss, i.e., the reporting of ice dam conditions.

Some things (like ice dams) may be unavoidable, despite an association’s reasonable efforts to remove snow and ice. However, an association is still required to exercise reasonable care to properly maintain the condominium’s common areas during winter months and during periods of prolonged inclement weather. To that end, associations should regularly remove snow from the condominium’s common area roof(s) and/or awnings. Additionally, associations should clear ice and icicles from common areas to prevent ice from falling. In some cases, this may prove difficult if the common areas where icicles may be forming are not easily accessible (particularly during those winters where a significant amount of snow falls). However, even if these common areas are not easily accessible, it does not absolve associations of their obligations to maintain the same. Therefore, it is important that associations have a plan in place for investigating those difficult to reach areas, and it may be helpful in such instances to request that all unit owners or residents whose units are adjacent to those common areas, to promptly report any adverse condition, which the association may not otherwise be aware of.