By Jonathan H. Katz, Esq.

As reported in the New York Times, legislators from New Jersey and New York will introduce a bill in Congress shortly seeking to alter a longstanding Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) policy and require that FEMA qualify condominiums and cooperatives for federal disaster assistance.

Under the current FEMA policy, co-ops and condominium associations are considered “business entities” that do not qualify for FEMA assistance, which can include up to $30,000 per household. After the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, thousands of homeowners were surprised to learn that their condos and co-op were largely barred from federal disaster assistance given to similarly situated single-family homes. Presently, while individual homeowners may apply for FEMA grants to restore the interior of their units or their individual homes, a community association may not request a FEMA grant to repair a common roof, remove debris or replace vital operating systems destroyed by a natural disaster. As a result, countless condominiums and co-ops have not been able to obtain grants for damages to roofs, siding, decks and other common areas.

While FEMA officials were sympathetic, they based their rejection on the Stafford Act, a federal disaster law that excludes co-ops and condos. The proposed legislation, if enacted, would alter the Stafford Act to make residential condominiums and co-ops eligible for FEMA assistance and remove the $30,000 cap for assistance.

The Community Associations Institute (“CAI”) is continuing its efforts to include community associations in this legislation. You can follow CAI’s efforts here.

For more information on this or any other issue concerning your community association, please contact one of our Community Associations attorneys. For breaking news or updates on new blog posts, follow us on Twitter at: @njcondolaw.