I am not sure where this year went, but we have already experienced the first frost in the Chicagoland area. Like it or not, winter is right around the corner! This article should serve as a reminder that if you have not started your winter preparations, do so now.
Boards of HOAs and condos, as well as partners in property management, can recognize that the coming months in Illinois lead to weather conditions that increase the rate of slip-and-fall accidents. Inadequate or improper snow removal can be one of the contributing factors. The following tips regarding property management when it comes to winter weather should be considered:
- If you are a business that handles your own snow and ice removal, ensure your personnel are trained and know that they should remove the snow and ice from all sidewalks and parking lots.
- After all removal is completed, all areas should be adequately salted.
- Stay attuned to local weather reports as well as your jurisdiction’s specific requirements for snow and ice removal.
- Make sure any patrons are put on notice to be cautious as they traverse to and from your building. Encourage safety measures while walking and driving.
- Ensure your condo/HOA has adequate insurance. Also, be sure any snow removal vendors have adequate insurance with your Association named as an additional insured. Be sure they are reputable and licensed.
- Be aware of the differing ice-melting products. Some rock salts are an inexpensive cost for certain paved areas, but they are ineffective for concrete as they cause damage to the structure and leave the ground uneven in later months. Avoid the use of pellets in high-traffic areas, as persons can roll their feet over them. Also, be mindful of our furry friends – chemical-based and harsh salts are dangerous for them. Be sure to wipe their paws after walks, as they are susceptible to licking them.
- If you are engaging a snow removal company, ensure you review the contract and that it includes a proper “scope of work” detailed within it. Legal counsel should be reviewing these documents.
- Keep proper records of all snow and ice removal activity, whether by contractor or in-house. These documents can be helpful later down the line should someone claim your association is negligent.
- Check on your furnaces and boiler systems by getting check-ups now and minimizing heat loss by sealing cracks in windows and doors. Costs for heating your homes are going to increase significantly this year – be sure to budget for such. Buildings should be kept at a minimum of 60°F at all times (be sure to check local codes should your jurisdiction require higher temperatures).
About Matthew J. O’Malley
Matt O’Malley is an attorney in Tressler’s HOA Practice Group and a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. He has nearly a decade of experience and serves as general counsel to various HOA/condo associations, and advises his Boards and property managers on risk assessment, daily issues, and litigation strategies. Matt has a track record of success in both bench and jury trials. He focuses on the client’s resolution goals, whether that is achieved through trial, settlement conference, mediation or arbitration. Matt serves his clients in a variety of complex litigated and non-litigated matters, including actions for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, indemnity and contribution, professional malpractice, community association law, personal injury, general corporate, employment discrimination and civil rights violations.