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 Condo Association 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.