As more and more co-ops and condominium communities seek to attract residents, boards and managers have turned to attractive new programming opportunities for individuals and families. Whether it’s a rooftop Fourth of July party, a gardening workshop, or an off-site dining experience, there is no shortage of options to entertain and engage residents and shareholders. As these options grow, however, it is important to keep in mind the inherent risks and issues of liability that could easily be overlooked amidst all the fun.
Today’s co-ops and condos are adding social programs and activities to their menus of offerings as a way to not only entice new residents and shareholders, but to build a stronger sense of community. Whether catering to the children in the building with playrooms and movie nights or older adults with karaoke nights or younger singles with off-site restaurant trips and wine tastings, the goal is to bring people together and enrich their enjoyment of the place they call home.
Knowing in advance what kind of issues might arise with programs and activities such as these will help reduce the elements of surprise that can prove so difficult if anything goes wrong.
“Anything out of the ordinary is going to be an exposure, and thus put more liability on the community association,” says Edward Mackoul, president of Mackoul & Associates, Inc., an insurer based in Island Park, New York and Morristown, New Jersey. “Whether it be adding an amenity such as a pool, gym or playground, which are normal these days, or having something like wine tasting at a restaurant or providing a shuttle for off-site trips. Some, such as off-site events, can provide additional liability and may require additional insurance policies.”
Planning ahead truly is a key to success, says attorney Matthew Goldberg of Bancroft, Richman & Goldberg, LLC. which has offices in Chicago and St. Charles, Illinois. Assuming there are no questions of authority to engage in such a program, there are still liability risks,” he says. “For example, if you have an association-sponsored physical activity and someone gets hurt, there could be liability. If you go off-site, there are any number of risks that are even further outside your control. What if the transport gets in an accident?”