This guide from Travelers, the insurance company for MJ Sorority clients, provides information on incorporating best practices and a prevention plan to help reduce the risks of slips, trips and falls at your business and on your premises.

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This guide from Travelers, the insurance company for MJ Sorority clients, provides information for property owners on liability regarding sidewalks.

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We have created this document in partnership with Heather Moore and Mark Sausser of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP in an effort to help our clients address the components of an acceptable Housing Agreement.

Because laws vary widely from municipality to municipality, we recommend that you seek local legal counsel to develop your specific Housing Agreement; however, we hope that you will use the attached resource to avoid common potential pitfalls for Greek facility housing agreements. In addition to the attached checklist, your Housing Agreement should include an addendum listing the rules and requirements expected in a community living environment, as well as a description of how the House Corporation expects that the property be used.

We also recommend that you consider a similar document for non-resident members to follow (often referred to as a membership or parlor agreement) that describes the rights and expectations for non-resident members when they visit the chapter house. As always, should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your Client Executive.

2020 Addendum: We review and publish the Important Terms for Housing Agreements each year in February for the MJ Housing Forum. Each year, we update the document based on trends and questions that Mark Sausser and Heather Moore from Faegre Drinker see, as well as any trends that MJ Sorority is seeing from our part in your contract reviews. We are all learning from the current experience of broad closings due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and took the opportunity to work with Mark and Heather to provide new language that we suggest that you add to future agreements to clarify closures caused by public health emergencies. The language Mark suggested is below:

Unexpected House Closure. In addition to the other termination rights granted to House Corporation in this Agreement, House Corporation may close the Chapter House and require the members to vacate the same in the event such action is required or encouraged by the University, or if the University has or will cancel or suspend in-person classes, whether due to public health emergencies, pandemics, communicable disease outbreaks or any other reason. In such case, the determination of whether payments made by or due from Member will be credited against future payments (or, with regard to seniors, refunded) will be made on a case by case basis, considering all factors, including the length of time the Chapter House is closed and the fixed expenses incurred by the House Corporation.

DISCLAIMER: This document does not constitute legal advice; it is merely a guide to key components for a housing agreement. The laws relating to the possession of property vary from state to state. Please consult experienced legal counsel when you are preparing housing agreements.

Not a lease. Call your document a housing agreement; do not use landlord/tenant/rent/lease language because those who reside in a fraternity or sorority (hereafter, “fraternity”) house do not have exclusive possession rights as tenants in an apartment complex do. In legal terms, your agreement is therefore not a lease but a license, although you need not use the term “license.” You can add language stating “this is not a lease.”
Payment terms. Each year strive to move closer to the university model: require payment in advance of moving in, either prior to the school year or at least prior to each semester. Consider requiring a direct draw from a credit card or bank account. If possible, the agreement should provide the university “checklist” or other enforcement actions which are available for use following a default by a member.

House Corporation Obligations and Student Rights. Under the housing agreement, obligations of the house corporation and rights of the student are expressly conditioned upon execution of the agreement by parents as parties to the agreement and not merely as guarantors. Parents are directly and fully liable for all obligations of the student under the housing agreement and are jointly and severally liable with student hereunder. Parents shall have no occupancy rights at the house as a result of the housing agreement. Parents acknowledge that they are directly and indirectly benefitted from having the student live in the house and that adequate consideration for entering into the housing agreement has been received.

Fraternity discipline and violation of University Rules or any laws. Provide that a member who is suspended or terminated from membership, is expelled or suspended from the university, or who violates the law is automatically in breach of her agreement and must move out of the premises immediately. A violation of university, fraternity or chapter rules should also be a breach. The agreement should allow the house corporation, at its discretion, to continue the house agreements in place if the chapter as a whole is put on probation, whether by the fraternity or by the university, or is forced to close operations. If the chapter is shut down due to disciplinary matters, it is likely that the owner will want the members out of the house. But if the chapter is closed simply because of a lack of numbers or due to university actions involving Greek organizations generally (e.g., campus-wide suspensions of Greek organizations), the owner may want to reduce its losses by having the members stay until the end of the current academic year.

Knowledge of discipline rules. In the agreement, members acknowledge that they have received, read, understood and agreed to follow all fraternity and university disciplinary rules.

Non-waiver. Provide that the house corporation’s failure to enforce provisions or protections in one instance do not constitute a waiver of its ability to enforce those provisions in future instances.

Who may reside. Provide that only full-time registered students who are members of the fraternity at the college or university may live in the chapter house. The members should agree that rooms may be assigned and reassigned at any time and that the owner need not resolve disputes among members or be responsible for actions of any other members. The agreement must expressly say that it is not assignable by the member.

Damage to House. It is helpful to provide that if the house is damaged and the responsible party is not identified, each of the members will be responsible for an equal share of the cost of repairing that damage and each of their housing deposits can be used to cover the cost of the damage.

Unexpected House Closure. In addition to the other termination rights granted to House Corporation in this Agreement, House Corporation may close the Chapter House and require the members to vacate the same in the event such action is required or encouraged by the University, or if the University has or will cancel or suspend in-person classes, whether due to public health emergencies, pandemics, communicable disease outbreaks or any other reason. In such case, the determination of whether payments made by or due from Member will be credited against future payments (or, with regard to seniors, refunded) will be made on a case by case basis, considering all factors, including the length of time the Chapter House is closed and the fixed expenses incurred by the House Corporation.

Deposits. To the extent permitted by local law, define deposits as “housing deposits” that can be used to remedy failure to pay house bills or to repair damage rather than “security deposits” as to which the law sometimes imposes more limits.

Absence/off campus study. Generally, members should agree to pay the housing fee whether they live in the house or not. It is advisable to have a specific provision about how to handle study abroad, internship and student teaching students, which may range from requiring full payment unless a substitute resident is found, to releasing students from further payments so long as timely notice is provided. (We have attached sample language for this purpose.) It also helps to have the agreements signed at a time when members are most likely to know whether they have been accepted for off campus study. The agreement should also address other hardship causes of absence that may arise (e.g., illness, death in the family, etc.), and provide that the house corporation has no obligation to release students from the agreement, but the house corporation in its sole discretion may decide to release students in certain extenuating circumstances.

Voluntary Move-Outs. The agreement is a binding contract and if a member “changes her mind” and wants to live out after she has signed an agreement, she would be in default. The agreement should be clear that in the event a member defaults by not moving into the house or by vacating the house early, the owner’s remedies would include a continuing obligation by the defaulting member to pay all amounts due under the agreement. Rarely is it possible for a replacement resident to be found after housing agreements have been signed and it is even harder mid-year so any “breakage fee” less than the whole amount due might not fully protect the owner. Because enforcing these provisions can be difficult, some organizations have elected to require a lump sum payment as a move out fee. These are generally enforceable, but as noted the likely result is that the owner will suffer economic loss.

Chapter house uninhabitable. Provide that if the chapter house becomes uninhabitable, the house corporation may use university housing or off-site housing as alternative housing; also, provide that the agreement may be terminated by the house corporation.

Member personal property (including cars). Put members on notice in the agreement itself that the house corporation does not (and cannot) insure members’ personal property on the premises (including cars in the parking lot), and that members must have their own coverage for such items. The agreement should also expressly release the chapter, the fraternity, and the local housing corporation from all liability for damage to the student’s property whatever the cause, including the negligence or the chapter, the fraternity, and the local housing corporation.

Breaks. Establish procedures for occupancy, or prohibiting occupancy, of the house for winter, spring and summer breaks.
Member release and indemnification of the house corporation. Because members are also currently insured under your policy, the release and indemnification from members need only extend to claims involving member personal property and claims not covered by your insurance.
Service Animals. Your agreement should permit their presence if both medically necessary and approved by the housing corporation. As a private club, you are not subject to the ADA legislation for the disabled, however, there may be state or local laws which apply allowing the animal. Animals that meet this area of law are dogs and miniature horses only.

Emotional Support Animals. Sometimes also referred to as therapy or assistance animals are a part of the Federal Housing Act (FHA) and can be any type of animal. Although there remains debate as to whether private clubs like a sorority chapter or local house corporation are subject to this legislation, there are stringent requirements of a landlord and this must be carefully considered.

Searches. Your agreement should permit the house corporation to search rooms at any time for any reason without prior notice or consent.
Items not permitted on the property. You should provide that members may not have the following items on the property: firearms; other weapons; illegal drugs/controlled substances; marijuana (listed separately because it is now legal under some state laws); alcohol (again, it should be separately listed because it is legal for some students under state law). Importantly, because marijuana is illegal under federal law, the house corporation may generally prohibit possession of medical marijuana and would not be required to permit its possession or use as a reasonable accommodation for disability.

Rules. A general set of rules, which can be modified from time to time, without the consent of the member or chapter, should be established. Those typically include no smoking, no candles, no roof access and no modifications of rooms.

Enforcement. Regardless of who the owner of the house is, the national fraternity and/or the national housing corporation should have the right to enforce the terms of the housing agreement. This is particularly true if the “owner” signing the agreement is the chapter.

Remedies. The agreement should give the owner, following a default, all rights and remedies at law. The agreement should also expressly say that the owner has the right to remove the student from the house following a default, but such removal does not release the student from her payment obligations. It is also helpful to have a provision which allows the owner to terminate a student’s agreement without a default if the owner determines at its sole discretion that the termination is best for chapter as a whole, but such a provision should also state that no payments should be due for the period after the student has moved out.

Sample Study Abroad/ Internship Provision ** Please note that this is just sample language and it would need to be modified to fit in the context of the applicable housing agreement.

Off campus study. If Resident is accepted into and elected to participate in a study abroad program or internship, she will be charged a $__________empty bed fee (the “Empty Bed Fee”) for the semester she is enrolled in the study abroad program, in lieu of paying the full payments due hereunder, provided that a copy of the acceptance letter related to such program is provided to the Chapter no later than __ months in advance. If Resident is required by the University to student teach, or engage in similar educational opportunities required by the University for her course of study, at a location 50 miles or further from the Chapter House, and provides notice within the time period set forth above, she may, in any such case, petition the Chapter for relief from the Empty Bed Fee. The Chapter House’s decision relating to relief from the Empty Bed Fee shall be at its sole discretion and shall be binding on Resident. As all situations are unique, prior determinations of the Chapter shall in no way bind or affect its determination with regard to Resident’s petition. If Resident is studying abroad or has accepted an internship and has located another member of the Chapter who is not living in the Chapter House and is willing to replace Resident as an occupant of the Chapter House, the Empty Bed Fee will be not be charged. Resident may only receive one exception during her tenure as a member of Chapter.

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Engaging in a building or renovation project is an exciting, albeit stressful, endeavor. In addition to the hundreds of decisions regarding design, budget, decorating, and other items, there are insurance and risk management concerns to consider in order to protect the House Corporation
and the organization from loss.

In an effort to simplify at least the insurance portion of the building process, we have developed a glossary of sorts to help you familiarize yourself with the associated terminology, as well as our recommended limits when applicable.

General Liability

General liability covers physical and bodily damage for which the general contractor and its employees would be held liable as a result of completed operations or product liability. We recommend that any independent contractors carry a minimum of $1M per occurrence in general liability limits.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is insurance paid by companies to provide benefits to employees who become ill or injured on the job. We recommend that independent contractors carry a minimum of $500,000 per accident.

Automobile Liability

Automobile liability insurance protects the insured against financial loss because of legal liability for automobile-related injuries to others or damage to others’ property by an auto. We recommend that independent contractors carry a minimum of $1M per occurrence in automobile liability limits.

Builders’ Risk

A builders’ risk policy is a property insurance policy that is designed to cover property in the course of construction. Coverage typically applies not only to property at the construction site, but also to property in transit or at off-site storage locations. We use the estimated completed value of the project as the builders’ risk limit.

We recommend that you have an MJ Client Executive review contracts associated with any building projects prior to signing them. We also recommend that the Fraternity/Sorority, House Corporation, Chapter, etc. be indemnified in the contract language from any loss or damage caused by the independent contractor/s. Because of the complexity of these types of issues, we recommend that you engage the services of a local attorney familiar with your local laws and statutes in the contract negotiations.

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In 2007, Virginia Tech brought national focus on the need for campuses to set strategies to prevent and rapidly address mass violence. Since that time, there has unfortunately been several other incidents where gun violence occurred on college campuses.

This national scourge of gun violence has fueled extensive debate by state legislators about the appropriate course of policy action to mitigate the public safety threat that active shooters pose to the campus communities. Much of this debate has centered on the issue of allowing firearms on the college campuses, which up until most recently have been considered no guns zones!

Currently, there are nine states that allow concealed carry permit holders to bring guns on to college and university campuses. These states are Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Oregon. In contrast, twenty states have effectively banned firearms on campuses. This legislation, however, does not reflect the substantial change in direction of the state legislature’s advocacy taking place currently.
Women’s fraternities and sororities have long prohibited the presence of concealed carry hand guns on their property. This prohibition is not unlike other prohibitions that the house corporation property owners are at liberty to set as a private organization, such as no smoking, no candles, no halogen lights, no alcohol, etc.
We maintain that any legislation being considered is addressing specifically colleges and universities obligations only. We recently saw this play out in Texas with their recent concealed carry legislation, which specifically excludes private property such as fraternities and sororities.

The only exception, of course, would be if your chapter house is owned by the university and, in that case, you would be subject to the same housing requirements as if the university occupied the property. Therefore, as a private property owner of a sorority chapter house, you are in your rights to deny the presence of any concealed carry weapon by any member, employee or guest to your chapter house.

In order to make this clear to all, we recommend at a minimum the following risk management advice:

  • Incorporate this prohibition of concealed carry firearms in your housing agreements
  • Incorporate into other agreements covering non-resident members of the same prohibition
  • Post on your chapter/house corporation website the prohibition
  • Post signs at all entrances in English and Spanish to your building alerting visitors and guest to the prohibition
  • Incorporate into your employee handbook of thus prohibition
  • Incorporate both your physical building and to also include any automobiles in your owned parking lots

This is an evolving area of legislation, so it is important that you monitor any specific state legislative action to the contrary. We clearly have the university and college communities as allies as they too are very opposed to this requirement because they view it also as increasing a risk of further violence on their communities.

Should you have any additional question on this subject, feel free to contact your Client Executive at MJ Sorority Division.

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Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized marijuana or approved marijuana use for medical purposes, which obviously poses problems for women’s fraternity and sorority House Corporations and chapters regarding the use of a federally-banned substance on chapter property. From an insurance standpoint, we recommend that your housing and membership agreements require compliance with all state and federal laws.

Fraternal Law addressed medical marijuana in their September 2009 issue. In the article, Timothy Burke sited several recent court cases that would support our recommendation above:

The California Supreme Court, just a year ago, upheld the right of an employer to terminate an employee for violating the company’s anti-drug policy when the employee tested positive for the use of marijuana. The employee argued that he was allowed to use marijuana because he had approval to use marijuana for medicinal purposes in California…the [California] Supreme Court, however, readily recognized that ‘no state law could completely legalize marijuana for medical purposes because the drug remains illegal under federal law.’

Fraternal Law

Since that time, the courts have continually upheld the rights of employers over their anti-drug policies. The Chronicle of Higher Education addressed the use of medical marijuana on college campuses. According to the Chronicle article, “medical marijuana users at Humboldt State, Fort Lewis and other colleges are advised to live off campus and leave their medicine at home.” At a panel session during the National Conference on Law and Higher Education, “speakers on the panel here pointed out that the ‘federal trump card’ gives universities legal cover to ban marijuana use without fear of challenge under the Americans With Disabilities Act or similar state laws.” Colleges in Colorado, for example, which has approved marijuana even for recreational use, have the right to define what conduct is expected and permissible within the respective communities and campuses, on or off campus. The same is true for women’s fraternities and sororities.

Women’s fraternities and sororities have the same right and ability to require more prohibitive rules on their property than are required in non-sorority-owned housing. Just as women’s fraternities and sororities ban alcohol on their properties, so too can they ban the use of illegal substances. Experts agree that it is important for women’s fraternities and sororities to communicate well in regards to behavioral expectations with their members and volunteers upfront.

We understand that this is a difficult issue to tackle, and we want to help you determine how best to manage this risk. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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The insurance company underwriters have accepted the sorority class of business based upon the exposures that are normally present for housing, such as member-only female tenants, no alcohol allowed on the premises and having a House Director live on the property. The coverages provided under your organization’s national insurance program have been designed and priced based upon these guidelines.

The House Corporation may desire, on occasion, to rent out the chapter property to a third party. There are certain parameters that must be in place in order for the insurance carrier to consider supporting the arrangement, which include the following:

  • Lessee is a single sex organization, not individual tenants.
  • Lessee must carry $2,000,000 General Liability coverage.
  • Lessee must include the House Corporation and the Fraternity as primary Additional Insureds.
  • Lessee must provide a Certificate of Insurance annually to the Landlord and MJ Insurance.
  • An adult supervisor needs to live on the premises.
  • Alcohol is prohibited on the premises.
  • Candles are prohibited on the premises.
  • Lessee must complete the MJ Self Inspection Property Checklist each semester.

Please contact us to discuss any potential rental arrangement you may be considering, and we can determine if the arrangement is acceptable from an insurance and risk management standpoint. We will talk through the plans, discuss the exposures involved and help you determine the best course of action and discuss other risk reduction/management techniques you may want to consider.

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Excerpt from News & Notes

Year end 2017, the MJ Sorority Department was very pleased to see that we now have seventy-eight percent (78%) of our chapter houses under the additional protection of a fire suppression system. The leadership of the women’s fraternities and sororities are to be complemented on this attention to safety for their members and the preservation and protection of their property.

The goal of having a fire sprinkler system is twofold:

  • To reduce significantly or entirely the risk of fatalities in a sorority chapter house due to fires
  • To reduce significantly the ultimate property damage of the claim and disruption to your operations

As a reminder where a fire sprinkler system is installed, the property owner or house corporation has the benefit of a forty percent (40%) credit to their property insurance premium, which is a substantial financial benefit to the property owner.

Those chapter houses that are sprinklered were generally following the NFPA Code 13R, which required sprinklers except in the attic space. There was the assumption that there would be limited access to the attic space and the attic would be clear of storage and of any other use.  The cost advantages of the NFPA 13R code over the prior code of NFPA 13 are substantial, ranging roughly 40-60 percent less.  This is due to several reasons:

  • Pipe material can be plastic instead of steel (product cost and installation costs)
  • Attics do not have to be sprinklered if limited access and use

A trend has emerged with more fires occurring in the attic which has caused the property insurance underwriter some concern. Since there are no sprinklers in the attic, a fire that begins in the attic burns for a period of time undiscovered. It is only when the roofing is burned through and/or burns through the ceiling of the floor below that the building fire is detected. Valuable time has been lost where the fire department has not been notified as the sprinkler system goes off only after the fire burns through another area beyond the original origin site.

The fire results in more dollars loss per fire, it is harder to detect, it becomes larger in size and causes more widespread flame damage. Water damage also affects the dollar loss per fire since the fire is attached at the highest level by the fire department, affecting all of the floors below as opposed to a fire that is attacked on lower floors only.

We have considered how to address this exposure from a risk management stand point and offer up the two recommendations (applies to both sprinklered and non-sprinklered buildings):

Careful attention needs to be given to any electrical devices that may be operational in the attic, such as electric fans, humidifier, etc. Electrical malfunction is the leading cause of attic fires; three out of four of the largest fires in the MJ Sorority Department were due to electrical malfunction.

Any time that work is being done on these electrical devises, it is important to use contractors that have adequate insurance in case a claim occurs that arose out of their work on the item. Should the contractor cause the fire, then the insurance company would have recourse against the contractors own insurance coverage to pay for the damage to your property. See www.mjsorority.com for more details on this matter.

It would also be wise to pay particular attention to the attic space after the work has been done to ensure that the completed work appears to be functioning as intended.

  • Install a heat detection/sensor or rate of rise detection/sensor, which is hooked up to your fire alarm system to give quick notice to the fire department of a fire in the attic and the occupants of the chapter house so they can evacuate. These devises can alert fire projection when the temperature in the area spikes up from a fire starting in the space. These sensors are relatively inexpensive and are connected to the fire alarm system. You need to contact your fire alarm system company to get more information of the additional risk management tool.

Tattletale is a portable alarm company that distributes important fire safety tools. Tattletale is also a business partner with Travelers Insurance, the property and liability insurance company for MJ Sorority clients, which enables MJ Sorority clients to have access to preferred pricing.  These units are hooked up to the existing fire alarm system and are very reasonably priced.

Of our top four largest claims, three of the four started in an attic and the floors below were indeed sprinklered. As you can imagine when a fire occurs, the liability insurance company underwriter is very pleased that there has been no fatalities; however, the property insurance underwriter is less pleased because with an undetected attic fire, the cost of the ultimate loss is direct damage and loss of use claims are far more substantial than what they would have been if the attic had been sprinklered.

In order to preserve the 40 percent credit, we have two options as we see it:

  1. Install a sprinkler system in your attic, which would be outrageously expensive and impractical or
  2. Install the two or three rate to rise detectors/sensors which has a very reasonable price tag

We urge you to review your system and if the attic is not sprinklered, make arrangements to get the rate to rise detectors/sensors installed. We do believe that in a fairly short period of time that the only way to maintain your forty percent credit will be to have these detectors/sensors installed in your attic.

As a property owner, the safety of your resident members is one of your biggest responsibilities, and we believe that these additional risk management recommendations will help you control your risks.

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For Sorority Chapter Houses

Nearly every chapter facility is subject to severe winter weather. This is true not only of facilities located in Canada and the central and northern portions of the United States, but winter weather damage has occurred in areas as far south as Florida and Texas. Indeed, claim history indicates the areas that are most vulnerable to damage are the southern portions of the country because they are not accustomed to long periods of prolonged cold. For these reasons, it is important that every facility prepare in advance for the possibility of severe winter weather. The following checklist provides a starting point in developing a comprehensive plan to prevent unnecessary losses that can result from winter weather conditions.

SPRINKLER SYSTEMSYESNO
Unattended areas inspected hourly or temperature monitored by central station?  
Concealed spaces containing piping provided with adequate heat?  
Building heat maintained at or above 55˚F for areas protected by wet pipe sprinklers?  
Dry pipe valve enclosures are adequately heated and monitored?  
Should pipes freeze, is a plan in place to prepare for thawing and pipe leakage?  
In southern locations: are pipes insulated or is heat maintained in preparation for cold weather?  
BUILDING FEATURESYESNO
Building heating systems repairs or annual maintenance scheduled before cold weather?  
Heating equipment, combustion controls, and safety devices tested for proper operation?  
Windows and doors in good repair and properly weather-sealed?  
Gutters, downspouts, and roof drains are clear?  
Roofs visually inspected for water ponding, structural deficiencies, etc.?  
Areas subject to freezing provided with non-freeze type fire extinguishers?  
Designated individuals authorized to initiate a winter weather alert?  
List of equipment containing water that is to be drained before cold weather?  
List of suppliers for portable boilers and/or heating units developed?  
Designated individual/s to check that temperatures are maintained in the facility when it is closed or un-occupied?  
Designated individual/s to leave faucets slightly open to let water flow to decrease possibility of the pipes freezing?  
Procedure established for monitoring snow depth on roofs and snow removal action plan?  
Are water-filled pipes located in exterior walls or unheated spaces properly insulated?  
Have any pipes that are not required during the winter months been drained? (e.g. exterior hose lines)  
Has any standing water in exterior valves been removed?  
Are hydrants kept free of snow, ice, and other debris for easy access by the local fire department?  
Are trees inspected to remove broken or dead branches?  
BOILER EQUIPMENTYESNO
Is water flow maintained through process cooling lines and cooling towers to help prevent freeze-up and possible damage?  
Have any pipes, valves, and pumps that are not required during the winter months been drained?  
LIST OTHER FEATURES UNIQUE TO YOUR FACILITYYESNO
   
   
   
   
   

*Any box checked “no” indicates a need for correction action.

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Essential measures to minimize the risk of a freeze or water damage loss

  • Keep furnace on and thermostat set at or above 68 degrees
  • Make sure all hoses are removed from exterior water spigots/faucets
  • Drain water lines in lawn sprinkler system where appropriate
  • Inspect windows and repair all broken glass
  • Place additional insulation on exterior walls and windows
  • Insulate exterior doors appropriately, and assure all close and latch completely
  • Attach and secure downspouts with extension from foundation, not draining onto the driveway, sidewalks, or patios and fully displace water from walking areas

During periods of extreme colder temperatures

  • Open the indoor faucets slightly to allow water to trickle as moving water does not freeze as easily
  • Leave the doors to cabinets that contain water lines open, this will allow heat to enter the area and help prevent freeze
  • If the power goes out, note the time of the outage and have a plan to keep perishable food cold. Potentially hazardous foods, including meat, dairy, eggs, and cooked vegetables need to be stored at or below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • e a plan in place if you are without power and heat for extended amount of time

Additional safety measures during colder months

  • Clear all necessary snow and ice from sidewalks, fire escapes, and walkways which may result in a slip and fall hazard
  • Use fireplace, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside. Exercise caution when heating with these devices, as well as propane appliances, and older wall or floor gas furnaces.
  • Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors—the fumes are deadly.
  • Check that you have a working carbon monoxide detector.
  • Keep as much heat as possible inside your property. Check the temperature in your home often during severely cold weather.
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Engaging in a building or renovation project is an exciting, albeit stressful, endeavor. In addition to the hundreds of decisions regarding design, budget, decorating, and other items, there are insurance and risk management concerns to consider in order to protect the House Corporation and the organization from loss.

In an effort to simplify at least the insurance portion of the building process, we have developed a glossary of sorts to help you familiarize yourself with the associated terminology, as well as our recommended limits when applicable.

General Liability

General liability covers physical and bodily damage for which the general contractor and its employees would be held liable as a result of completed operations or product liability. We recommend that any independent contractors carry a minimum of $1M per occurrence in general liability limits.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is insurance paid by companies to provide benefits to employees who become ill or injured on the job. We recommend that independent contractors carry a minimum of $500,000 per accident.

Automobile Liability

Automobile liability insurance protects the insured against financial loss because of legal liability for automobile-related injuries to others or damage to others’ property by an auto. We recommend that independent contractors carry a minimum of $1M per occurrence in automobile liability limits.

Builders’ Risk

A builders’ risk policy is a property insurance policy that is designed to cover property in the course of construction. Coverage typically applies not only to property at the construction site, but also to property in transit or at off-site storage locations. We use the estimated completed value of the project as the builders’ risk limit.

We recommend that you have an MJ Client Executive review contracts associated with any building projects prior to signing them. We also recommend that the Fraternity/Sorority, House Corporation, Chapter, etc. be indemnified in the contract language from any loss or damage caused by the independent contractor/s. Because of the complexity of these types of issues, we recommend that you engage the services of a local attorney familiar with your local laws and statutes in the contract negotiations.

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It’s Back to School time!

Take advantage of the last of the slow summer days and of an empty chapter house to do some Back to School cleaning and organizing.

Back to School Property Checklist
Date CompletedItem
Kitchen
 Remove contents of cabinets and clean interiors
 Clean appliances (ovens, microwaves, stove tops, etc.)
 Organize pantry, discarding expired food
 Take stock of kitchen supplies to see what needs to be donated and/or replaced
 Dust off refrigerator condenser coil
Formal Rooms
 Rotate stacked books to prevent warping
 Clean leather furniture and vacuum upholstered furniture
 Hire someone to inspect your fireplace and chimney and prepare them for colder weather use
 Have carpets cleaned
Throughout House
 Wipe baseboards and moldings
 Wash all windows
 Vacuum blinds and other window coverings
 Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
 Declutter and clean out the attic, if applicable
 Clean ceiling-mounted light fixtures
 Clean carpets, doormats, and rugs. Replace any summer rags with winter ones.


Outside the House
 Check weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows; repair and replace as necessary
 Check and clean gutters
 Clean the patio furniture
 Check the exterior paint and touch up as needed
 Visually inspect the roof. If necessary, hire someone to replace missing shingles and recaulk as needed.
Additional Reminders
 Make sure your House Corporation Inventory Checklist is up-to-date and store in offsite location
 Complete the Chapter House Self-Inspection and Recommendations. We recommend you complete the self-inspection on an annual basis.
 Check the Property Maintenance Reference Guide to verify what maintenance items need attention
 Check your flood zone to make sure that there have not been any changes in the last year at www.floodsmart.gov.
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