Winterization By M. Katherine Bushey, Esq.


The trees have turned colors and leaves have fallen.  Is your association protected from the cold weather?

It is that time of year again in Ohio where boards should remind all residents and occupants that their heat should be kept at a minimum of 55 degrees to protect the property and common elements from the harsh cooler months.  It is also a good time of year to start identifying abandoned or vacant properties as the extreme cold can cause pipes to burst and cause severe damage to common elements.

If a home is in foreclosure and a mortgage company is involved, almost all mortgage contracts allow the bank to secure and winterize the home to protect the value of the property.   Notify legal counsel of vacant and abandoned homes that are in foreclosure and he/she can send the mortgage lender a winterization letter requesting that it secure the home at the bank’s cost.

For homes not in foreclosure, many community association governing documents provide authority for associations to gain access into a home for the purposes of protecting the common elements and adjoining homes if there is a known risk of potential damage.  The governing documents may also permit the association to charge any costs incurred in gaining access and winterizing the home back to the owner’s account.  Prior to gaining access into the home, however, the association must provide reasonable notice to the owner.  In addition, prior to charging back these costs, the association must follow proper enforcement procedures by advising the owner that they will be liable for any costs incurred in gaining access and winterizing the home, and allow an opportunity for a hearing before the charges are added back to the account.


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