During the winter months, the rate and risk of residential fires increases. Your condo or HOA is not immune to this. The increase is often attributed to additional electricity use, holiday décor, Christmas trees and the increased use of electric space heaters. Residents and owners need to be sure that they are using common sense when they are lighting that fire or favorite holiday-scented candle and practice other fire prevention practices. However, we are also seeing a national increase of electronic batteries in everyday use, including vehicles. The proliferation of EVs (“electric vehicles”) is only complicating matters and leading to even more of an influx of fire damage caused by defective or damaged batteries and/or chargers used in such vehicles and devices.

With the additional use of EVs, we are just on the cusp of seeing some jurisdictions and cities consider legislation and anticipate much more in 2023 and beyond.  Some cities are placing limitations on the sale of batteries and implementing quality control measures. Given the rapid changes in technology, we recommend that associations consider a review of their internal rules to protect property and consider ways to limit the fire exposure of not only seasonal holiday issues, but also those born about by the batteries in electric vehicles or other devices. Fire protection measures should always be a consideration, but EVs and their safety are now a novel area to address.

Associations should consider reasonable measures to protect life and property. At a bare minimum, we recommend only allowing batteries and devices that pass high-quality standards. We are able to discuss any amendments to your Association rules and regulations and how best to enforce these. Tressler LLP recognizes that each Association has diverse needs. We are available to help you. I invite you to drop me a line or contact me for a complimentary consultation at momalley@tresslerllp.com or by phone at (312) 627-4052. 

About the Author

Matthew O’Malley is an attorney in Tressler’s HOA Practice Group and a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. He has nearly a decade of experience and serves as general counsel to various HOA/condo associations, and advises his Boards and property managers on risk assessment, daily issues, and litigation strategies. Matt has a track record of success in both bench and jury trials. He focuses on the client’s resolution goals, whether that is achieved through trial, settlement conference, mediation or arbitration. Matt serves his clients in a variety of complex litigated and non-litigated matters, including actions for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, indemnity and contribution, professional malpractice, community association law, personal injury, general corporate, employment discrimination and civil rights violations.