If you live in a condo and experience mold and water damage, you should consult a Florida condo lawyer immediately. Mold and water damage are serious issues, and you need good representation to protect your interests. Here are reasons that engaging the services of a lawyer experienced in representing individual condo owners is a wise decision.
If water and mold damage occur, it’s important to establish who is responsible. Water damage leading to mold growth is costly to repair. You can’t just assume things will work out according to what’s right. You need a lawyer who will do the research and establish the case for who is responsible.
A Lawyer Dedicated to You
You might assume that your condo owners’ association will work in your best interests. After all, you are a member of the association. Unfortunately, an assumption like that can be a mistake. Your association may try to limit its liability and work for the collective good rather than for your individual good. Having your own representation is best for you.
Negotiate with Insurance Companies
Insurance companies will try to limit their payout costs. Never sign a settlement agreement until you have your own Florida condo attorney review the details. If you sign without your own attorney reviewing the settlement, you could end up shortchanged with regard to the final outcome.
The costs related to water and mold damage may not be all apparent at first. Toxic mold can lead to health problems. If health issues develop due to the mold, you’ll want an attorney who can seek compensation for those related issues as well.
An Attorney Who is Experienced in Handling these Matters
If you retain an attorney for water and mold damage, find one who is experienced in this type of law practice. Law is a highly complicated matter. An attorney who spends his days in a non-related practice of law may not be familiar with all of the intricacies of law related to condominium ownership.
Protect Your Ownership Rights in a Condominium
You’ve invested a lot in the ownership of your condominium. If water and mold damage occur, retain the services of a lawyer who is experienced in Florida condo law. If you find yourself in this situation, contact the LAW OFFICES OF HERB M. MILGRIM, P.A. for a no-obligation consultation.
If you have ever walked around any of the high end shopping malls like the Bal Harbor Shops, Aventura Mall, Town Center Mall in Boca Raton, or the exclusive Waterside Shops in Naples, you can’t help but notice many people with their cute little dogs walking around the Mall or in these cute little baby carriages. As a Trial Attorney that helps Condo Owners and Homeowners obtain accommodations in no pet housing I was curious what laws allowed these people (with no apparent disability) to bring their dogs into the Mall. Don’t get me wrong, I am a dog lover and would bring my Dalmatians (Jimmy and Lucy) with me everywhere if I could, but my curiosity really just got the better of me. One person told me they had a Doctor’s Note and that their dog was a Therapy Pet. Another person told me that their dog (white Bijon in a Burberry Stroller) was a Service Dog but she admitted that she does not really have a disability and nobody at the Mall has ever questioned her. Often times they refer to these Assistance Animals as a Comfort Pet, Companion Animal, or Emotional Support Pet. For many people seeking a waiver in a No Pet Condominium, questions are always asked. Unless you know the correct answers you could be raising a red flag for the Condo to seek the removal of your animal or face legal action.
Many individuals seeking a waiver of Condo Pet Rules on their own do more harm than good by raising so called “red flags” that lead to skepticism and ultimately a denial of their request. One of the most common “red flags” is using the wrong terminology to describe their animal. Many people don’t understand the difference between Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, Companion Animals and Therapy Dogs.
Wikipedia defines Emotional Support Animals as “a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating or mitigating some symptoms of the disability, to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_support_animal#Multiple_emotional_support_animals)
Service Animals are allowed in public places like restaurants and shopping malls but they do require specialized training and there must be a direct nexus between the person’s disability. The Federal Regulations contained in the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) sets forth a narrow definition:
Service Animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The revised regulations specify that the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purpose of this definition. servanimals_ntcfheo2013-01
An Assistance Animal like an Emotional Support Animal is not a pet. Emotional Support Animals are covered under the Fair Housing Amendment’s Act which does not require specialized training or certification.
Online Certification of an Emotional Support Animal is a definite “red flag” for many Condo Associations being asked to make an accommodation for an individual with a psychological disability. These so called “Online Certifications” are nothing more than filling out a form and paying a fee in exchange for some type of certificate. These “Online Certifications” for Emotional Support Animals do not address the key factors such as how the use of an Emotional Support Animal will improve or eliminate the effects of the person’s disability or how the animal is necessary for the individual to be afforded an opportunity to use and enjoy their residence. Moreover, neither State Law nor the Federal Law impose any “certification” requirement for these Assistance Animals.
In a 2012 Article on this website I wrote about the many negative portrayals in the press surrounding the use of Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs. In addition to the bad press there have also been some negative cases decided in the Florida Courts and Federal Courts that have allowed Condo Associations and HOA’s to make it even more difficult for people with disabilities to get a waiver or reasonable accommodation to live with their Emotional Support Animal or Service Animal.
Many people think they can simply go online and obtain a sample Doctor letter and then hire some online therapist to sign off on their letter. Unfortunately, in cases where the person’s disability is not readily apparent, the Association has the right and even a duty to start a dialogue to conduct a meaningful review of the individual’s disability and their need for having an Emotional Support Animal. Most Florida Condominiums and HOA’s seek legal advice from Association Lawyers on all requests for waivers of No Pet Rules or requests for Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act.
Over the past several year we have handled many cases for individuals seeking a reasonable accommodation to live with an Assistance Animal like a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal. In almost all of the cases where the people already had a Doctor’s Letter it was clear that the letter did not provide the necessary information in order to secure the Accommodation. In all of these cases we worked closely with the Doctor to make sure that all of the important information was spelled out by the Doctor to avoid the need for further inquiries by the Condo Association.
If you or somebody close to you has a Disability that involves one or more major life functions and needs an Assistance Animal such as a Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal, you need to contact us to discuss your rights before attempting to seek a waiver of the Association’s No Pet Rules. In some cases you could be entitled to damages and reimbursement of your Attorney’s Fees and expenses if the Association has discriminated against you or attempted to threaten or intimidate you.
The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A., is a Florida Law Firm that represents individuals. We do not represent Condo Associations, Homeowner Associations or any type of Community Associations purely as matter of choice. Over the past 20 plus years we have helped Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association. We provide prospective clients with a *Free Case Evaluation. You can call us and tell us about your case to see if we can help you. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida & Federal Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action. Call us now (954) 966-3909!
* Free Case Evaluation is by telephone and does not include legal advice. Office consults with legal advice are available on a flat fee basis.
As a Condo Attorney that represents individual Condo Owners in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Naples and many cities throughout Florida, the question I get asked the most is:
Who is responsible for mold contamination and water damage in my condominium?
First, one must identify the source of the water intrusion that caused the damage and ultimately led to the mold growth. More likely than not the water intrusion came from a common element like the roof, common plumbing lines or even from a crack in an outer wall. Another likely source could be from another condo unit, usually from above. This is especially common in South Florida cities like Fort Lauderdale, Aventura, South Beach, Miami and Naples where many of the condo owners live out of state and keep these Florida Condominiums for seasonal use like snowbirds or simply as a good real estate investment. The problem is that most of these units are not being monitored by their owners or the Condo Association. Another problem is moisture driven mold that usually comes from vacant units that are in foreclosure and are not running any type of air conditioning. The heat along with excessive moisture and humidity levels in these vacant units can affect your unit and you may not even know it until you start getting sick.
If the source of the water intrusion is from the Common Elements than the Association is responsible for the cause of the water intrusion. Many Condominium Boards will try and shift the blame for a failed roof repair or faulty plumbing line to the contractor that did the work. Unfortunately, individual condo owners are not aware that the CondoAssociation owes them a Non-Delegable Duty to maintain these Common Elements and they cannot shift the responsibility to a third party in this type of situation. This duty owed by the Association is contractual pursuant to the Declaration of Condominium and Statutory a set forth in the Florida Condominium Act in Section 718. While most individuals read Section 718.111 to require the Individual Condo Owner to insure the Unit from paint in and the Association to insure from the drywall out, there is a considerable amount of confusion as to who is really responsible in the event the water intrusion and/or mold contamination was caused by the failure to maintain a common element. Usually, if the mold or damage came from water that originated outside the unit, most insurance companies writing policies for individuals will deny the claim citing the source of the water intrusion as the reason for the denial. This leaves the individual with no alternative but to look to the Association. Moreover, even if the individual’s carrier does cover the interior damage, the source of the water intrusion, i.e., leaky roof, faulty plumbing, etc., must first be repaired before doing any work to the interior.
In an earlier Article on this topic I cautioned Condo Owners to be careful when hiring companies to inspect and/or assess for mold damage:
Prior to 2011 companies would come in to “assess” for mold and water damage, write up a huge estimate and then solicit you to hire them to do the repairs and mold remediation. This clearly presented a conflict of interests.
The Law now prohibits a mold assessor from also performing the mold remediation work to avoid this inherent conflict of interests. For many of these reasons, water damage and mold contamination cases can be difficult for owners to resolve on their own. Condo Associations have big Law Firms and trained Property Managers advising them on these matters and they use your money to pay for them. If you are tired of dealing with the matter on your own, you should seek out legal advice from an experienced Trial Attorney that represents individual Condo Owners.
The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A., is a Florida Law Firm that represents individual Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association. We provide prospective clients with a *Free Case Evaluation. You can call us and tell us about your case to see if we can help you. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action. Call us now (954) 966-3909!
If you have water or mold damage in your condominium, townhouse or cooperative in Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Sunny Isles, Downtown Miami, Aventura, Davie, Dania Beach, Cooper City, Pembroke Pines, Tamarac, Coral Springs, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Naples or anywhere in Florida be sure to contact us for a free case evaluation.
* FREE CASE EVALUATION IS BY TELEPHONE AND DOES NOT INCLUDE LEGAL ADVICE. OFFICE CONSULTS WITH LEGAL ADVICE ARE AVAILABLE ON A FLAT FEE BASIS.
As a Condo Attorney with offices near DowntownMiami, BrickelAvenue and South Beach Florida, my practice is focused on representing individuals that have disputes with Condo Associations, Homeowner Associations and other Owners. I am amazed at how many beautiful new luxury Condominium buildings have been successfully completed recently. It seems like a great place for many of our young professionals to live, work and play. With this large influx of new Condominiums in Miami-Dade County, there has also been a dramatic rise in the number of claims being made by individuals for personal injuries and for other types of disputes that individual owners and tenants are having with their Associations.
Many guests, visitors and owners at these new Condominiums are unfortunate enough to suffer some type of personal injury due to a slip and fall accident or an automobile accident. Others have issues with the way the Association maintains the common elements causing water and mold damage to their Condo Unit. Some Condo Associations have Pet Restrictions that are selectively enforced or worse that are unknowingly enforced against individuals with disabilities who should be entitled to an accommodation for an Assistance Animal like a Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal.
If you have been seriously injured in an auto accident or other type of personal injury accident like a slip and fall near Downtown Miami, BrickelAvenue or South Beach Florida we will come to you. An experienced Trial Attorney will come out to your location to personally meet with you and discuss your case. Most Personal Injury Cases are handled on a Contingency Fee basis. That means that you do not pay us a fee unless we get a recovery for you. For Condo Disputes other than personal injury cases we do offer a FREE CASE EVALUATION but those cases are all handled on an hourly billing basis as Florida Law and most Condominium Declarations provide for prevailing party attorney’s fees.
Florida Condominium Associations and Homeowner’s Associations keep Law Firms on retainer using the money you pay as Association Dues. In the event you have a dispute with the Association these Law Firms are not there to advise you but to represent the interests of the Association. Before trying to deal with Association Lawyers and experienced Property Managers you need to seek out the advice of an experienced Trial Attorney that represents the individual.
Call a Condo Lawyer that represents owners
The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is a Florida Law Firm that represents Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association. Herb Milgrim is a tough trial attorney with over 20 years of experience. We provide prospective clients with a Free Case Evaluation. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action. Call us now (954) 966-3909!
* Free Case Evaluation is by telephone and does not include legal advice. Office consults with legal advice are available on a flat fee basis. Personal Injury Cases may be eligible for a Free Office Consultation and Representation on a Contingency Fee Basis.
I have been getting a considerable amount of calls lately from Condo owners and Homeowners here in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Aventura, Naples, Sunny Isles and Boca Raton. The majority of the calls are from individual owners concerned about various Condo Pet Rules and HOA Rules restricting their ability to keep pets as well as Assistance Animals such as Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals. Many people have gone online looking for Service Dog Certification and obtained Emotional Support Dog Kits or tried to Register a Service Dog that was really an Emotional Support Animal. Typically these Service Dog Certifications obtained online are red flags for the Condo and HOA Associations as neither the Fair Housing Act nor the Americans With Disabilities Act require any type of certification.
Unfortunately there have been some negative case decisions combined with the fact that many Condo Associations and HOA’s don’t really understand the laws dealing with Assistance Animals like Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs. Many individuals use the wrong terminology referring to their animal as a “Service Pet” or “Emotional Support Pet” or “Therapy Pet” causing the Association Attorney to question their request. In addition, many Florida Condominiums and Homeowner Associations are attempting to restrict things like the size, weight and breed of the animal, as well as the number of animals, and even where the owner can walk the animal on the Association Property.
While it is true that Associations can enact Rules and Restrictions concerning an individual’s use of the common elements and even their own unit, these Rules and Restrictions must not be unreasonable or arbitrarily enforced. In addition, if the Board is enacting Rules and Restrictions on it’s own without a vote of ownership, the Rules and Restrictions must be within the scope of the Board’s Rule making authority and cannot contradict the Declaration of Condominium or a right that can be reasonably inferred therefrom.
One of the big problems with Condo Boards enacting Pet Restrictions and Condo Pet Rules is that they do not apply to Assistance Animals such as Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals. For example, while a Condo or HOA Board may restrict the weight of pets to 30 pounds they cannot tell a person with a disability that they cannot keep a Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal that is over 30 pounds. People with disabilities that require assistance animals or animals for emotional support are protected from such restrictions under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA).
Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) came out with an advisory notice to help people understand the obligations of housing providers under the various Federal Acts including the FHAA and the ADA. The Notice came out on April 25, 2013 and is referred to as FHEO-2013-01. A copy of this Notice can be found on the HUD website or you can simply click this link to read it in it’s entirety.
The key points in the Notice are that while the ADA limits the definition of “service animal” to dogs that require specialized training, the FHAA allows accommodations for “assistance animals” to individuals with disabilities in housing. An “assistance animal” is not a pet but rather an animal that provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. In addition, it can be an animal that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of an individual’s disability.
Another key point made in the Notice is that Housing Providers (like Condo Associations and HOA’s) must provide an exception to the Association’s pet restrictions to permit a person with a disability to “live and use an assistance animal(s) in all areas of the premises where persons are normally allowed to go, unless doing so would impose an undue financial and administrative burden or would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing provider’s services.” In addition, the “Breed, size and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal.”
Because housing providers are allowed to request that people with disabilities, that are not readily apparent, submit “reliable documentation” of a disability and their disability-related need for an assistance animal, many Condo Associations and HOA’s use that as an opportunity to intimidate individuals with overly intrusive forms and requests for medical information. Unfortunately, many individuals don’t know their rights nor are they familiar with the legal significance of the various terms and definitions. This usually results in a submission of material that often raises “red flags” for the Association and results in a denial of the individual’s request.
If you or somebody close to you has an Assistance Animal such as a Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal and your Condo Association or Homeowner Association has not made reasonable accommodations for you or worse, is trying to enforce Pet Restrictions that don’t apply to your animal, you need to contact us to discuss your rights. In some cases you could be entitled to damages and reimbursement of your Attorney’s Fees and expenses.
The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A., is a Florida Law Firm that represents Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association. We provide prospective clients with a *Free Case Evaluation. You can call us and tell us about your case to see if we can help you. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Federal & Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action. Call us now (954) 966-3909!
* Free Case Evaluation is by telephone and does not include legal advice. Office consults with legal advice are available on a flat fee basis.
As a Florida Attorney with offices near Miami, Aventura and Fort Lauderdale, I have seen many examples of Condominium and Homeowner Association Boards operating illegally. One of the most prevalent abuses is Association Boards enacting Rules outside the scope of their authority.
Many Condominium Associations and Homeowners Associations in Florida have a provision in their Governing Documents that gives the Board the right to make and amend reasonable rules and regulations respecting the property. Unfortunately, Board Members are not properly advised by the Association’s Attorneys as to what that this right really entails. Many Boards or even Board Presidents will simply change the Rules without even having a properly noticed meeting. This is a violation of Florida Statutes §718.112 (condominiums) and §720.303 (homeowners). While Board Members may vote amongst themselves to amend Rules they cannot change or amend the Declaration without putting it to a vote of the owners.
Unfortunately, many Board Presidents think they can do whatever they want and conduct much of the Association’s business behind closed doors without informing the owners. As matter of practice, whenever I send a demand letter to an Association on behalf of an owner I always send copies to the individual Board Members. This assures that the President will not act alone in the decision making process. Sometimes all it takes to get the case settled is for one level headed Board Member to read the letter and convince the rest of the Board that they should not fight for the sake of fighting and that they should settle the matter before exposing the Association to expensive legal fees and damage claims.
Many Board Members are unaware that they are not allowed to enact Rules that contradict the Association’s Declaration, which is like the Constitution for the Association. As owners you should read your Governing Documents. These usually include the Declaration, Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws. Before the Board tries to enact a Rule or cite you for violating a Rule you need to assess the situation.
When Courts are called upon to assess the validity of a Rule enacted by an Association Board, they must first determine whether the Board acted within its scope of authority and, second, whether the Rule reflects reasoned or arbitrary and capricious decision making. This principal is discussed in the Florida case of Beachwood Villas Condominium v. Poor, 448 So.2d 1143 (Fla 4th DCA 1984). Generally speaking, a Board cannot enact a use restriction as a Rule that restricts or contravenes the Restrictive Covenants in the Declaration. Under the Beachwood case that would be considered outside the scope of the Board’s Rule making authority.
This issue usually comes up when dealing with restrictions on leasing or renting your condominium or home and with regard to pet restrictions. In most cases, the Association already has a provision in the Declaration discussing the restrictions as to leasing or keeping pets, but chooses to circumvent the voting rights of the owners by enacting a Rule that attempts to restrict the use rights set forth in the Declaration. In Timberwoods Condominium Association, Inc., v. Parker, Case No. 93-0328, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Division of Florida Condominiums held that while a condo board is clearly empowered to make rules regarding the use of the condominium property, a Rule limiting pet weight to 18 pounds was invalid where it contravened the Declaration provision on pets that was silent as to pet weight making it reasonable to infer that a dog of any size is allowable as a matter of right. In the Timberwoods case the owner won because the Board improperly enacted a Pet Weight Rule that was contrary to the Restrictive Covenant in the Declaration concerning Pet Restrictions. Unfortunately there are many instances where owners are losing these battles with their Associations because they are not aware of their rights or they simply have not read their Governing Documents.
If you are faced with an Association Violation letter or looking to rent or buy in a Florida Condominium Association or Homeowner Association you should know what the Use Restrictions are and whether or not they are valid. As a Florida Law Firm with over 20 years of Trial experience we can help you fight your Association or simply review and analyze the Association’s Governing Documents for you before you move in to see if it is a place you really want to live in.
The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is a Florida Law Firm that represents Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association. We provide prospective clients with a Free Case Evaluation. You can call us and tell us about your case so we can help you weigh your options before jumping into a fight that could prove costly to both sides. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action. Call us now (954) 966-3909!
I am sitting here in my law office in Hollywood, near Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Aventura and the rain is pouring down. I figure with all the rain we are getting today it is probably a good day to make a visual inspection of my own home for signs of water intrusion. As a homeowner of a single family home I am the one ultimately responsible if water comes in through the roof or a crack in the foundation. Therefore it is important that I address my responsibilities. Unfortunately for many Florida condominium owners, Association Board Members and Property Management Companies charged with similar responsibilities are not as diligent.
As a Trial Attorney that helps individual condo owners, I get calls every day about various condo associations that have not maintained the common roof, walls, slab, or plumbing. In many of these cases the Condo Board or Property Management try to blame the problem on someone or something else or they simply try to ignore it altogether. In other cases they hire inexperienced, untrained workers to perform roof repairs and other work that should have been done by properly licensed and highly qualified experts in their field. In almost all of the cases the individual condo owner has seen their condo unit severely damaged due to water intrusion resulting from the Condo Association’s failure to maintain the common elements. In some of the more serious cases the condo units have become uninhabitable due to the presence of toxic mold.
According to the Florida Department of Health an increase in the levels of mold in the home can significantly increase the risk of potential health problems. The Florida Department of Health has come up with a guide for individuals to use in conducting their own inspection of their home:
Look for visible mold growth (it may look cottony, velvety, rough, or leathery and have different colors like white, gray, brown, black, yellow, or green). Mold often appears as a staining or fuzzy growth on furniture or building materials (walls, ceilings, or anything made of wood or paper). Look for signs of moisture or water damage (water leaks, standing water, water stains, condensation, etc.).
Check around air handling units (air conditioners, furnaces) for standing water. Routinely inspect the evaporator coils, liner surfaces, drain pans and drain lines.
Search areas where you notice mold odors. If you can smell an earthy or musty odor, you may have a mold problem.
If mold-allergic people have some of the symptoms listed above when in your home, you may have a mold problem.
If you decide to hire someone to come in to inspect or assess your condo unit for mold or water damage make sure that you hire a reputable company and check to see if they are properly licensed. Prior to 2011 companies would come in to “assess” for mold and water damage, write up a huge estimate and then solicit you to hire them to do the repairs and mold remediation. This clearly presented a conflict of interests. Now the law prohibits this type of practice. Under Florida Law a mold assessormeans any person who performs or directly supervises a mold assessment. A mold remediatormeans any person who performs mold remediation. Mold remediation is the removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition, or other treatment, including preventive activities, of mold or mold-contaminated matter. According to Florida Statutes Section 468.8419 a person may not:
(d) Perform or offer to perform any mold remediation to a structure on which the mold assessor or the mold assessor’s company provided a mold assessment within the last 12 months. This paragraph does not apply to a certified contractor who is classified in s. 489.105(3) as a Division I contractor. However, the department may adopt rules requiring that, if such contractor performs the mold assessment and offers to perform the mold remediation, the contract for mold remediation provided to the homeowner discloses that he or she has the right to request competitive bids.
Many individual condo owners in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County contact me to assist them in getting their Condo Board to take action. Usually the first thing that needs to be done is to get the Condo Association to hire properly licensed contractors to repair the source of the water intrusion in accordance with current building codes and acceptable industry standards. YOU CANNOT REPAIR THE INTERIOR OF THE UNIT OR REMEDIATE FOR MOLD UNTIL THE CONDITION CAUSING THE WATER INTRUSION IS FIRST REPAIRED. Many Condo Association Boards try to argue that the individual unit owner is responsible for the repairs to the interior of the unit and the contents that were damaged as a result of the Association’s failure to maintain the common elements. While the Florida Statutes do require individual owners to provide insurance coverage for the interior of their unit that does not relieve the Association of it’s non-delegable duty to maintain the common elements. In fact many claims that are submitted to the individual’s insurance carrier are denied because the source of the water damage originated from outside of the Condo Unit.
Over the past 24 years we have handled hundred of Condo Water Damage Cases. In almost all of the cases dealing with Florida Condominiums, the water intrusion or leaks usually originate from outside the unit and involve the common elements. The Condominium Declaration usually precludes individual owners from hiring their own people to fix a leak or source of water intrusion coming from outside the Unit if it involves repairs to a common element. Many individual condo owners that initially attempt to work with the Association to resolve the matter on their own have encountered difficulties trying to get the Association to fix the problem. Association Boards and Property Managers try to blame the cause on other owners or third parties like roofing companies and plumbers.
If you are tired of dealing with the matter on your own, you should seek out legal advice from an experienced Trial Attorney that represents condo owners. Your Association keeps expensive Florida Law Firms on Retainer so they can fight and delay your claim, and they pay these expensive Law Firms with your money. You should not be forced to deal with trained Property Managers and Attorneys without having someone fighting for you in your corner?
The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A., is a Florida Law Firm that represents Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association. We provide prospective clients with a *Free Case Evaluation. You can call us and tell us about your case to see if we can help you. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action. Call us now (954) 966-3909!
If you have water or mold damage in your condominium, townhouse or cooperative in Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Sunny Isles, Downtown Miami, Aventura, Davie, Dania Beach, Cooper City, Pembroke Pines, Tamarac, Coral Springs, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, or anywhere in Florida be sure to contact us for a free case evaluation.
* FREE CASE EVALUATION IS BY TELEPHONE AND DOES NOT INCLUDE LEGAL ADVICE. OFFICE CONSULTS WITH LEGAL ADVICE ARE AVAILABLE ON A FLAT FEE BASIS.
I recently received a call from a woman residing at an over 55 Community like Century Village Condominium here in South Florida. She was being told by her Association to get rid of her dog or face legal action. Despite the fact that she had a documented disability and a letter from her Doctor attesting to her need for an emotional support animal, she believed that her Association would fight her request for a reasonable accommodation until she ran out of money.
Despite the above fears, she was brave enough to hire me to fight them. Unfortunately the letter prepared by her Doctor did not address all of the issues and only served to invite more unnecessary probing into her sensitive medical information. I was able to provide the necessary language for the Doctor to prepare an effective letter. The Doctor’s letter was attached to my strongly worded demand letter citing the relevant Florida and Federal Laws and advising the Association of the harsh penalties if they failed to make a reasonable accommodation for her disability. Instead of sending my letter only to the property manager or the board president, I addressed it to the association and sent copies to each of the individual board members. In past cases I have seen many Association Boards run like dictatorships with absolutely no communication on important matters. In this case the President wanted to fight the matter even though the Association was in a losing position. The Board President did not care how much it cost because it was not her money. Thankfully the other Board members read my letter and were able to persuade the President to do the right thing and grant the request.
Over the years I have helped many condo owners and their tenants obtain reasonable accommodations from their Associations. I have also heard many horror stories about Association Board’s harassing and intimidating owners into giving up their rights for fear of retaliation by the Board and other owners. I am sure many of you have read the story of Phyillis Schleifer and how the Century Village Association posted a notice with her name singling her out for all the other residents. She was lucky enough to get Broward County to fight her case for her. You can click here to read Britanny Wallman’s article in the the Sun Sentinel. Unfortunately not every case is accepted by the County. The County takes these cases based on HUD Complaints filed by consumers. Usually the Human Rights Section of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs will take on a select case as part of an agreement with the Federal Government that federal tax dollars be used to fund the case.
I have seen some Association Boards circumvent the voting requirements and enact pet “rules” that contravene the Declaration. I have seen property managers cause pet violation letters to be issued based upon unsupported complaints as payback for complaining about other unrelated problems. Many Association Attorneys question the veracity of claims for emotional support animals only to drive up billings.
If you or somebody you love has a service animal or emotional support animal and your Condo Association or Homeowner Association has not made reasonable accommodations for you or worse, is trying to enforce Pet Restrictions that don’t apply to your animal, you need to contact us to discuss your rights. In most cases you could be entitled to damages, as well as, reimbursement of your Attorney’s Fees and expenses.
The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is a Florida Law Firm, with offices near Fort Lauderdale and Miami, that represents Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association. Don’t try to deal with the matter on your own. Seek out legal advice from an experienced Attorney that focuses on helping condo owners. Your Association keeps expensive Florida Law Firms on Retainer so they can fight and delay your claim and they pay these expensive Law Firms with your money. Contact us now and find out if you have a case.
Many of us in Florida choose to live in gated communities because we feel they are safe and because they provide some attractive amenities. Are we sacrificing too much of our freedom for this security? I was appalled today to read about a 70 year old woman in California being fined by her Homeowner Association because she spends too much time in her garage. Marilyn Weber is being fined because she uses her garage as “living space” in violation of the Association Rules. Mrs. Weber is choosing to fight the Association but many of her neighbors are supporting her. All she really is doing is spending her free time in her open garage and enjoying the many brief encounters with her neighbors that happen to pass by or stop by in a visit. Since when did being neighborly become a crime? Please read the story and feel free to comment below or to share some of your own stories involving your Association.
I recently wrote an article this past January titled: Dealing with Homeowner’s Association Architectural Review Committees. One of the things I pointed out is that many “Associations and ACC committee members use their position of authority to exert their will over other owners. This usually results in legal battles that can be costly for both the Association and the owners involved.” I was in Court recently defending a Homeowner being sued by her Association because they didn’t like her choice of building material on a small modification to a house she recently purchased. Despite the fact that the Association Governing Documents didn’t expressly prohibit this particular type of building material the Association took legal action. Moreover, this Association failed to follow its own procedures for rejecting or approving the architectural modification. The point is that the Association clearly had no right to make the claims raised in it’s lawsuit. Despite all of this the Judge tried to make us feel bad for defending our rights. While I understand that nobody wants to have to spend tens of thousands of dollars arguing about a modification that may only cost hundreds, the fact remains that the Association filed the lawsuit which was clearly frivolous and subject to a claim under 57.105 of the Florida Statutes. The case law on the issue states that an Association cannot impose one style over another purely for aesthetic reasons absent some existing pattern or scheme to put purchasers on notice that one style will be allowed.
So, as owners what should you do? Do you fight and spend thousands of dollars or give in and let yourself be bullied? Perhaps we should all head for the hills…or I should say the woods. There are plenty of places where you can live in some of the more remote locations in South Florida but even those rural areas are forming Associations with people ready to step in and bully you into submission. As a trial attorney I never back down from a fight, but it is important to pick your fights carefully!
If you are not sure of your rights seek out legal advice from an experienced Trial Attorney that represents condo owners and homeowners. Your Association keeps expensive Florida Law Firms on Retainer so they can fight you, and they pay these expensive Law Firms with your money. You should not be forced to deal with experienced Property Managers and Attorneys without having someone fighting for you in your corner?
The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is a Florida Law Firm that represents Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association. Herb Milgrim is a tough trial attorney with over 20 years of experience. We provide prospective clients with a Free Case Evaluation. You can call us and tell us about your case so we can help you weigh your options before jumping into a fight that could prove costly to both sides. Once we have been retained we review all of the relevant documents and governing Florida Laws and advise our clients on the best course of action. Call us now (954) 966-3909!