Can we order our residents to evacuate our association in cases of things like hurricanes? Does a state emergency order play a role? If the state orders a mandatory evacuation can we fine residents who remain?
Most Association documents make violating the law a violation of the Association’s governing documents. If this language appears in the governing documents, then the Association can theoretically fine members who defy an Order by the State to evacuate.
The question as to whether the Association should engage in such a process is a political question and requires a measurement of what is to be gained by doing so, versus what would befall the Association if it did not. For example, fining a person who just lost all his belongings in a storm would not go over well in the community.Robert Griffin, Esq.Griffin Alexander PC415 Route 102nd FloorRandolph NJ email@example.comTel:973- 366-1188Fax:973-366-4848
These are governmental issues not HOA issues.Thrasher Buschmann & Voelkel PC
151 N. Delaware St.
Indianapolis IN 46204-2505
Generally, if the State or local authorities have not issued an evacuation order, the answer is no. Unless your governing documents had an unusual provision granting the board the authority to issue an evacuation order, absent a government order of evacuation, the board would not have the authority to issue such an order. Typically, the powers of a board are far greater with respect to the use of the common elements as opposed to the use of the units. A board cannot unilaterally tell an owner that he or she must leave their own home, when the governmental entity hasn’t made that determination. If the State has issued a mandatory evacuation order and your governing document require an owner to comply with all law, then it might be possible to fine an owner for failing to evacuate. If, though, an owner didn’t evacuate and it did not cause the association or fellow owners any harm, it would appear to be an overreaction to a situation where the association’s efforts might be better targeted towards recovering from the hurricane, rather than seeking to fine owners who failed to evacuate.
J. David Ramsey
Member, College of Community Association Lawyers
Becker & Poliakoff
1776 on the Green
67 Park Place, Suite 702
Morristown, NJ 07960