SOURCE: Becker & Poliakoff

August 18, 2008 18:06 ET

Becker & Poliakoff Issues Tropical Storm Fay Alert to Florida Community Associations

State's Largest Community Association Law Firm Urges Readiness for Storm Aftermath, Says Timely Damage Mitigation & Assessment Are Key to Avoiding Damage Repair Pitfalls

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL--(Marketwire - August 18, 2008) - Becker & Poliakoff, a diversified commercial law firm with more than 115 attorneys in 15 offices throughout Florida and the largest community association law practice statewide, today issued an advisory to Florida community associations in the path of Tropical Storm Fay counseling that they take all appropriate measures in case of evacuation and adequately prepare for post-storm recovery and damage mitigation in the immediate storm aftermath.

In the advisory e-mailed directly to more than 4,000 Becker & Poliakoff client associations statewide, the firm reminded all condominium, co-op, homeowner, mobile home and other community associations in the path of Tropical Storm Fay of last-minute preparations as the storm approached landfall. Given the potential for high winds and storm damage, the firm also urged them to pay particular attention to damage mitigation in the hours immediately following the storm and issued cautions with regard to contracting for damage repair to buildings and facilities once the storm had passed.

"Florida community associations can never be too prepared for the approach of a tropical storm or hurricane and the same holds true in the immediate aftermath of a storm. History and experience have shown that association Boards and managers can feel pressured by circumstance and eager contractors into making hasty decisions with unforeseen consequences," said Joe Adams, a Becker & Poliakoff community association attorney, Managing Shareholder of the firm's Naples and Ft. Myers offices and recognized authority on Florida community association disaster recovery issues.

"Every community association in the path of a tropical storm or hurricane should be ready to put into action immediate measures once a storm passes to mitigate any further damage and quickly assess the extent of damages to their properties," Adams added. "Communities that act quickly and decisively once a storm has passed can avoid many of the pitfalls associated with contracting for repairs and securing damage recovery from the insurers of their buildings or facilities."

Becker & Poliakoff's "Community Alert" issued Monday advised community association Boards and managers to check all last-minute preparations as Tropical Storm Fay approached and be ready for the immediate storm aftermath, paying particular attention to:

-- Mitigation of Damages: In the immediate aftermath of a storm, take the necessary steps to mitigate damages; history has shown that immediate water extraction is the most important step that can be taken to prevent the growth of mold.

-- Survey the Property and Identify Areas Needing Priority Attention: It is important NOT to sign contracts for restoration work without knowing the full extent and nature of the damages; there will be plenty of time to hire contractors for the actual restoration work -- do not rush into something without understanding all the conditions. You may also wish to keep a visual record through video or photographs of the damage to facilitate damage assessment and speed damage claims in a storm aftermath.

-- Be Careful of Predatory Contractors: After a disaster, many contractors "swarm" in to try to "save the day." Frequently, associations are not adequately protected by the one page proposals submitted by these contractors. Therefore, carefully consider which contractors are hired to do any repair work and have the contracts, to the extent possible in an emergency situation, reviewed by counsel, particularly if significant sums of money are involved.

-- Understanding the Pros and Cons of Hiring Public Adjusters: Some public adjusters charge a high percentage rate which is paid from your insurance proceeds. You should carefully consider the value of such proposals and consult trusted professionals before consenting.

Since Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in 1992, Becker & Poliakoff has been at the forefront of Florida law firms in offering local businesses and residents "a place to turn to" in all phases of recovery efforts, assisting in efforts to secure appropriate, fair and timely compensation and/or reconstruction of damaged property. The firm regularly promotes awareness of storm preparedness and damage recovery and mitigation procedures through an ongoing series of public seminars, e-mail alerts and bulletins advisories for community association boards and managers -- before, during and after the Florida storm season each year.

In 2005, Becker & Poliakoff was the recipient of a Thomson Elite award in recognition of a client-service initiative launched during the devastating hurricanes that hit Florida during a six-week period in 2004. The initiative included an informative special section within the Becker & Poliakoff website under the dedicated Internet domain www.hurricane-recovery.com that was designed to help with post disaster recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Additional information about the law firm's disaster recovery efforts, including available seminars, a checklist for communities affected by hurricanes, and pertinent articles by Becker & Poliakoff attorneys can be found at: www.hurricane-recovery.com.

About Becker & Poliakoff P.A.

Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. is a diversified commercial law firm based in Ft. Lauderdale with more than 115 attorneys in 15 Florida offices, New York City, Prague and affiliated offices in China, France and Israel. In addition to Community Association law and Disaster Recovery, the firm counsels clients in legal issues relating to Construction, Real Estate, Government Law & Lobbying, Commercial Litigation, Corporate, Tax, Technology, International Trade, Intellectual Property and many other areas of law. For more information, visit: www.becker-poliakoff.com.

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