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Condominium Unit Owners: Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Image source: VRBO

Thinking of purchasing a condominium unit along the Gulf Coast? Or need guidance in managing your current property? Whichever it is, condominium unit owners should bear in mind that while they can exercise their rights as owners, they also have responsibilities not just to their tenants if they are renting out their property, but to the whole community as well.

Let’s start first with the costs of maintaining a condominium unit. The monthly dues will usually include insurance on the unit, sewer and waste management, regular maintenance, and utilities, which account for most of the monthly costs. The owner should make sure that these are paid on time to avoid the risks of more damages should unforeseen events happen.

If you are renting out your property, you have the right to demand from the renters to treat the unit with care and you can set out limitations in your contract, so everything falls in its proper place. If you want greater protection, you can choose to purchase an optional contents policy to protect yourself from any future damage caused by your renter(s), accidents that may bring harm to your renters, and outages.

As a condominium owner, you own a share of the common elements in the whole building itself, such as parking lot, pools, tennis courts, playground, hallways, and many others. The condominium association should ensure that roofs, elevators, and other building elements are immediately restored if defective or damaged, or are undergoing regular maintenance, for the protection of both the owners and renters.

While living in a condominium would give you instant access to security, building facilities and other privileges given to owners, you should be responsible enough in making sure that you are not disturbing your neighbors. Avoid hosting late night parties, dragging chairs or furniture in the middle of the night, owning a large or barking pet, and well, arguing in a loud manner with household members. Bear in mind that your neighbors are just a few meters away and would probably love (or hate) being involved with your domestic issues.

Finally, as a condominium owner, you should have access to important documents, be spared from discrimination in relation to age, sex, race, etc., and be able to practice your role and right to elect directors to the association’s board. Everything too much to handle? Consider getting the advice of a professional so you’ll know when and how to set things in motion.

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Coastal Winter Storm: What to Prepare

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Coastal areas generally have more moderate temperatures than other areas during winter. Ocean currents may warm or cool coastal land, depending on the nature of the current that flows by that land.

Winter tourists who would rather skip the snow and enjoy the beach instead have the option to visit the Gulf Coast in Alabama, with its almost perfect weather that stays all year-round. The sun actually shines every day, so they have a wider range of activities to choose from if they do not like the idea of staying indoors.

Whether you are a golfer who needs green to get going or someone who likes the blue ambiance the beach offers, coastal areas may be the ideal spot to spend your winter vacation.

Image source: UCS USA

If you are living along the coast however, there is always the need to prepare for the unexpected, one of which is a coastal winter storm. Stella, a late-season Northeast storm, was reported to have killed five people in March 2017. While the snowfall is not of a concern along coastal areas, Stella has caused ocean water to flood into streets in some parts of New Jersey and New York. The extreme weather has even forced several states to issue travel bans, resulting to almost 9,000 flight cancellations.

What to do in case of a winter storm warning? Follow these simple tips and you are on your way of having a good winter:

  • Protect pipes from freezing by draining water from your pool or from outdoor hoses and adding insulation to attics and basements. For exposed pipes, allow them to drip so they do not freeze.
  • For added insulation, install storm windows or just cover windows with plastic.
  • If you can, consider purchasing an emergency heating equipment in case of power outage.
  • Store sufficient heating fuel; and firewood or coal for your fireplace.
  • Some homeowners prefer to buy their own generators.
  • Talk to your insurer and consider adding flood insurance cover to your policy.

Keep in mind these reminders and live a stress-free winter. Who would not want to wear a good pair of boots, a waterproof jacket, and trousers to enjoy a walk along the enticing shores?