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The Use of Portable Generators in Multi-Family Dwellings

By Steven G. Mlenak, Esq. November 2, 2012 Posted in Community Association Law

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and over 2.4 million homes without power, many homeowners have turned to portable generators to heat and light their homes. In multi-family dwellings, however, owners may not recognize the dangers of using a portable generator and many, if not most, do not realize that using such equipment is actually prohibited under their Association’s operating documents.

In most condominium or homeowners associations, the operating documents do not allow for portable generators to be used without the express consent of the Board. While portable generators may not be specifically mentioned in the documents, there are usually many provisions that would prohibit their use. For example, many Associations prohibit unit owners from storing, building upon, or obstructing any of the common elements. There is usually a provision that prohibits noise and light nuisances of any kind on the property and there is almost always a provision that prohibits burning fuel or using noxious or offensive materials. Further, many Associations prevent any activity that would have the potential to increase the Association’s insurance premiums. Due to the documented dangerous nature of portable generators, especially when not installed in a proper location by professionals, there is no doubt that the use of such a generator would violate each of the preceding provisions. At the very least, unit owners who own and store their portable generator inside their garage or premises will be in violation of their Association’s prohibition against storing gasoline inside their dwelling.

Finally, the use of portable generators for condominium-style dwellings that have little to no separation between neighboring units put other people and property at risk. FEMA has long warned that portable generators, even if properly installed, can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and spontaneous fires and explosions.

To be safe and compliant with your Association’s rules and regulations, make sure to get proper expressed consent from your Association’s Board prior to using portable generators.

This posting is intended to provide general information and is not intended as specific legal advice or to establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Griffin Alexander, P.C. at (973) 366-1188 to assist you with both your Community Association law and Landlord-Tenant law needs.

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