CALL NOW! 954-966-3909

LAW OFFICES OF HERB M. MILGRIM, P.A.
3800 SOUTH OCEAN DRIVE
JOE DIMAGGIO SUITE #217
HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA 33019
13
OCT
2014

Miami Condo Lawyer Discusses Toxic Mold in Condos and Water Damage

As a Florida Condo Lawyer with offices near Miami, South Beach, Sunny Isles, Aventura and Fort Lauderdale,   I get hundreds of calls from condo owners that have suffered some type of damage due to toxic mold and water intrusion from the condominium common elements like the roof and plumbing as well as damage from other units.  Most people think that the Condominium Association Insurance will cover all of their damage.  While it is true that Florida Condominium Associations are responsible for maintaining the common elements and are required to provide insurance for the building, most Condominium Insurance Policies have mold exclusions or have very limited coverage for damage due to mold.  In addition, most people don’t know that Florida Condominium Owners are required to have insurance on their own units. Section 718.111 of the Florida Condominium Act  sets forth the insurance requirements for Condominium Association and for the Individual Condo Owners.  Typically the Association is responsible from the drywall out and the individual unit owner is responsible from the paint inward.  That means, if a common pipe bursts without any warning and all of your furniture and personal property gets damaged,  you won’t be able to recover unless you have insurance on your condominium unit or unless you can prove negligence on the part of the condominium association or some other party. The standard insurance policy that individuals usually obtain for their condominium unit is what is called an “HO6” Policy.  This policy provides coverage for the Dwelling and for the Personal Property or contents of the unit.  The difference between the two coverages is best explained by the following: imagine if you could turn your condominium unit upside down… everything that does not fall downward would be considered part of the Dwelling  and everything else would be considered Personal Property.  Some individual Condominium Insurance Policies also provide coverage for Mold and for Loss of Use.  If the water or mold damage is so severe that the unit is not livable then  the Loss of Use portion can provide benefits for you to obtain temporary housing somewhere else.   The Mold coverage is usually significantly less than the coverage for the Dwelling or even the Personal Property.  Many Insurance Adjusters dealing with  condo owners will try and take advantage of this and blame the entire loss on the mold and thereby attempt to limit the amount they ultimately pay out to their own insureds.

In cases where the Condominium Association’s Insurance Carrier is involved,  they typically send out Inspectors and other Experts to go in and view the damage.  In past experiences we have seen these Inspectors hired by Association Insurance intent on looking to blame the cause of the water intrusion or mold damage on something that the Unit  Owner is responsible for maintaining; like the Air Conditioning or the Windows.  Moreover, these Inspectors rarely share their findings with the Unit Owners.    Therefore, it is important for Unit Owners to hire their own experts to go in and assess the damage and obtain the evidence necessary to confirm that the cause of the water intrusion was due to a failure to maintain the common elements by the Association.

An experienced Florida Condo Attorney that represents the individual Condo Owners will know what experts to bring in to prove the loss is due to a failure to maintain the common elements.  In addition, he will know the arguments to make to show that the original cause of the loss was due to water intrusion and will argue in favor of the greater coverages for the dwelling and personal property.   The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A., is one of the only Florida Condo Law Firms that does not represent the Associations.   We will guide you through the process step by step and coordinate with the various experts and inspectors to make sure that your interests are protected.

We represent individual unit owners (Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners) that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association or another owner.   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,  South Beach, 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.
23
SEP
2013

Condo Mold & Water Damage: Who is Responsible?

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.

 

 

27
JAN
2011

Broward County Condo Attorney Can Help Defend Owners’ Rights

As a Broward County Condo Attorney with over 20 years in practice I have seen many examples of Associations failing to work with individual owners in order to resolve disputes.   Unfortunately many Board Members refuse to take action to resolve a dispute until they are faced with an attorney’s fee claim from the owner.  The Association will try to stall the claim or point the blame elsewhere until they are faced with an attorney representing the individual owner.

In Florida the most common claims are water damage cases resulting from the Association’s failure to maintain the common elements like a roof or common plumbing.  Other cases that can be difficult for individual owners are pet restriction disputes, interference with an owner’s right to sell or lease, and  harrasment  and mismanagement by the Board Members. A large  number of cases involve Homeowner Associations’ arbitrary use of Architectural Control Committees to deny owner requests for purely personal or aesthetic reasons.

Due to the central location of my office and the means of electronic communication I have been able to assist Condo owners and Homeowners all over Florida with an emphasis  in Palm Beach County, Miami Dade County and Broward County.

Call  a Condo Lawyer that represents owners. The Associations keep expensive law firms on retainer using your money.  Before you let months and years go by trying to deal with the Association on your own try leveling out the playing field with your own experienced Trial Attorney.   Call Now (954) 966-3900!

01
OCT
2010

Heavy Rains Mean its Time to Check for Signs of Water Damage

The sun is out and there is not a cloud in the sky! It is days like this that make us glad we live in South Florida but, with Tropical Depression 16 and all the rain we have had over the last several months how is your roof holding up?  Have you checked your interior for signs of moisture in the walls?  It doesn’t matter if you live in a high-rise condominium, townhouse, garden apartment or single family house, with all the rain we have had, now is the time to check for evidence of leaks and water intrusion.

As a Florida Attorney that specializes in representing Condo Owners and Homeowners that have disputes or problems with their Associations I have handled many cases dealing with water intrusion issues. Early detection is often the best way to prevent the widespread damage and potential health hazards associated with mold contamination. One of the worst things that can be done is to ignore a water leak only to later find out that your home is now unlivable due to the widespread mold contamination.

I have spoken with many Florida Condo Owners that have water intrusion from roof damage caused by the Condo Association’s failure to maintain the common elements. The law is clear that the Association has a non delegable duty to maintain the common elements.  Many Condo Owners that have called me have significant damage to the walls and interior of their apartment that needs immediate repair, replacement and even mold remediation.  Although Owners have a duty to mitigate or minimize their damages, unfortunately they cant do the interior repairs until the external source of the water leak or intrusion is repaired.

In Condominiums the water intrusion or leaks usually begin from the common elements. If the common elements of a Condominium are involved the individual owners are precluded from hiring their own people to fix the leak according to the provisions in the Governing Documents of the Condominium Association.  Many Condo Owners trying to deal with the Association on their own have encountered considerable delays when trying to get the Association to fix the problem.  Associations 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 specializes in representing 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 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 specializes in representing 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.

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 South Florida be sure to contact us for a free case evelaution.

17
SEP
2010

Condo Attorney Explains Free Case Evaluation

We have been getting a tremendous response from all of you thanks to this website. We have helped many Florida Condo Owners and Homeowners with water damage cases, mold contamination, pet restrictions, selective enforcement, illegal budgets and harassment by overzealous board members. For those of you new to the site we offer a Free Case Evaluation to anybody that has a problem with their Condo Association or Homeowners Association. Unfortunately, while many of you contact us because you are in need of an experienced Condo Attorney that specializes in representing condo owners and homeowners, we get a lot of calls from people who simply want to get some free legal advice. As much as we would like to help you there are several reasons why we can’t give you legal advice based upon just a phone call. First of all, this is a business and we have to charge for our services but, more importantly, it is impossible for us to give legal advice without reading all the relevant materials which includes the Governing Documents of your Association.

So what is a Free Case Evaluation then you ask? Based upon the facts and issues you relay to us during our initial phone conversation we evaluate your case and tell you whether our legal expertise will help you to resolve your matter. If we believe we can help you the next step is for you to retain us. We require you to deposit a Retainer into our Trust Account before we can start reviewing documents. The amount of the retainer varies and depends on how much work we will be required to do as we bill by the hour for our time. Once the retainer is received we go through all of the relevant documents and applicable laws and discuss with you the best course of action for us to proceed. If we are able to resolve your case under the retainer you are refunded the un-billed balance. If the case requires more work you will receive an itemized statement showing what we did and how much time we spent on your case. You may then be asked to replenish the retainer so we have adequate funds in trust to continue the case. In most cases if we are successful we can recover the attorneys fees and costs that you paid in addition to your damages so you are made whole. Remember, the Retainer is not the fee and you will only be charged for the time spent on your case. Some things you will need to consider are the costs or expenses involved. Litigation requires us to pay a filing to a fee to the clerk of courts which is approximately $400. In addition we may need to hire Experts to help us prove our case. Experts usually need to be paid for their time as well. All these costs are recoverable if we prevail and will usually be discussed with you in advance.

Whether you have a case that requires litigation or you need us to send a strongly worded legal letter to your Association we encourage all of you to fill out our Free Case Evaluation Form or to contact us to discuss your case. In many cases the fact that you have retained an experienced Trial Attorney (over 20 years in practice) can be enough to convince your Association to concede to your demands.

28
JUL
2010

Water Damaged Condo: You Can’t Repair the Inside Until the Leak is Fixed.

I have spoken with many  Florida Condo Owners that have water damage from roof leaks or other leaks  caused by  the Condo Association’s failure to maintain the common elements.  While the law is clear that the Association has a non delegable duty to maintain the common elements, a problem arises for the individual owners.  Many owners have significant damage to the walls and interior of their apartment that needs immediate repair, replacement and even mold remediation.  Unfortunately, it would not be wise to repair the interior of the individual Condo unit until the external source of the water leak or intrusion is repaired.  Because the water intrusion or leaks usually begin from the common  elements the individual owners are precluded from hiring their own people to fix the leak according to the provisions in the Governing Documents of the Condominium Association.

Many owners trying to deal with the Association on their own have experienced considerable delays and stonewalling in response to their requests that the leak be fixed.  In some cases the Association will try to blame the cause on other owners or third parties like roofing companies and plumbers.  I spoke to one individual that lost his tenant as a result of  mold caused by the water damage.  Due to the Association’s delay tactics he may lose another season’s rent because the interior of the apartment cannot be repaired until the roof leak is fixed.  While some Associations are quick to deal with these type of issues they are usually in the minority.  Unfortunately, until the Condo Association Board is faced with a lawsuit or the threat of  litigation coming from an experienced Trial Attorney they may never take the appropriate steps to repair the source of the leak.  I have one client that complained of water leaking into her townhouse for six months.  Even when the Fire Marshall condemned the dwelling due to the severe water and mold damage, the Association still failed to take action. It wasn’t until a lawsuit was filed against the Association that any positive steps were taken.

Don’t try to deal with the matter on your own. Seek out legal advice from an experienced Trial Attorney that specializes in representing 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 experienced Property Managers and Attorneys without having someone fighting for you in your corner?

Many Florida Condo Owners make the mistake of hiring a Florida lawyer that claims they represent owners when the majority of their clients are Associations.  We do not represent Associations.  We have been approached by Associations in the past to keep us on retainer but, as a matter of principal and to keep the battle lines clear, we do  not accept cases from Associations.

The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is a Florida Law Firm that specializes in representing 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.

Remember that the Associations keep expensive Law Firms on retainer using your money. Before you try and fight the Association you should contact us to get a free case evaluation.  We serve the legal needs of condo owners, homeowners and co-op owners throughout Broward, Dade and Palm Beach Counties, including Hollywood, Davie, Pembroke Pines, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Hallandale, Sunny Isles, Aventura, Downtown Miami, North Miami Beach, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach with two convenient office locations in Hollywood Florida and Boca Raton Florida.  Call us now at 954-966-3900.

23
JUN
2010

How Long Do I Have To File Suit Against My Condo Association?

As a Florida Condo Lawyer specializing in representing owners in disputes against their associations I often get asked “how long do I have to file suit against my condo association?”  Many condo owners and homeowners have claims against their associations for “water damage and mold damage damage due to association’s failure to maintain common elements, injury claims in common areas, covenant enforcement,  illegal budget increases, selective enforcement claims, improper leasing restrictions, tortious interference with owner’s right to sell or rent, pet restrictions, interference with an owner’s quiet use and enjoyment, noise complaints, harrasment by board members and property management, architectural review claims, and improper use of funds by board members.”

Before we even look to Florida Statutes Section 95.11  we first need to determine under what theory of law we will be proceeding.  Are we bringing a negligence case or some other type of tort or are we bringing an action based on a contract or written instrument.  Most condo owners, homeowners and cooperative owners thinking of suing their association believe they are bringing a negligence or tort based claim.  While it may be true that the owner’s damages were caused by the negligence of the Association Board Members or Property Management,  as long as there is a provision in the Governing Documents addressing the obligation of the Association then the cause of action is for a breach of the Governing Documents.

Section 95.11(2)(b) provides for a 5 year limitation period for a “legal or equitable action on a contract, obligation, or liability founded on a written instrument….”

(See, http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=Ch0095/titl0095.htm)

The limitations period for negligence claims is 4 years.  A good attorney will make sure to style the cause of action as a Breach of Contract Action against the Association to take advantage of the longer limitation’s period as well as the prevailing party attorney’s fee provisions in the condo declaration.  It is always important to keep these limitations in mind and consult with a Florida Condo Lawyer  that specializes in representing condo owners.

17
JUN
2010

Condo water damage: who is responsible?

(this author is listed on Google Maps at http://maps.google.com/places/us/fl/hollywood/sheridan-st/4040/-law-offices-of-herb-milgrim-pa?hl=en )

The rainy season is upon us in Florida. Every afternoon the clouds form and the rain pours. Condo owners and homeowners need to be alert to the signs of roof leaks, water damage and mold contamination.  During heavy rains be sure to check the ceiling and areas around the window for signs of moisture.

For some condo owners in Florida they may not even be aware that their condo is slowly becoming contaminated by mold.  According to the Florida Department of  Health:

Many building materials (such as wood, sheetrock, etc.) provide food that can support mold growth. Even dust that has settled on these materials or furniture can be a food source for molds. Molds can grow almost anywhere there is enough moisture or high humidity. Controlling moisture is the key to stopping indoor mold growth, because all molds require water to grow.

In Florida, moisture can come from anywhere but some of the main culprits in Condominium’s and Townhouses are from the Roof Elements or from the Plumbing.  If you have water damage or mold contamination due to a roof leak there is a good chance that your Association is responsible for this as they have a non-delegable duty to maintain the common elements.  Don’t let your Association put the blame on someone else like the roofing company.  Because the Association’s duty to maintain the common elements cannot be delegated they are directly responsible to damaged owners.  If they deny your claim or cause unnecessary delay you can sue them and recover your damages and attorneys fees if successful.

Water damage may also be caused by faulty plumbing or broken air conditioners.  If that is the case you should consult with an  experienced  Condo Lawyer that specializes in representing owners.  The Attorney will most likely need to review the Governing Documents of the Condominium Association to determine if the cause of your leak was due to failure to maintain the common elements or limited common elements or from something that was under the care and control of another owner.

It is important to remember that even though the damage is to the interior of your home that does not mean that you are limited to bringing a claim against your own insurance company.  Many Association board members try to pawn off the Association’s liability by getting the owner to bring a claim against their own insurance.  Unfortunately most individual policies either won’t cover mold damage or have limited coverage.   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 South Florida be sure to contact us for a free case evelaution.

The Associations have Law Firms on retainer using your maintenance dues so it is important that you seek out counsel before things get out of control.The majority of our real estate cases and condo owners’  cases are billed on an hourly basis. However, we always strive to recover our client’s legal costs as part of our successful case.

01
JUN
2010

Condominium Association Failure to Maintain Common Elements-(part 2)

association failure to maintain causes severe mold damage

Mold Damage

In (part 1) we discussed some of the types of claims that can arise when the Condominium Association fails to maintain the common elements.  They can include:

“water damage from roof leaks, mold damage, fire from faulty electrical, noise complaints from roof top generators, inadequate water cooling towers causing unit owner air conditioning to malfunction, and of course there are the obvious claims like a resident or guest being injured due to inadequate security or a dangerous condition in the common areas of the building.”

In South Florida,  water and mold damage seem to be one of the most common complaints by Condominium Owners against their Associations.  Most cases begin with water intrusion due to the Association’s failure to maintain the roof and the roof elements which can include the drainage system.  In many cases the Association hires a roofer and/or plumbing company to fix the cause of the leak.  Unfortunately once water has intruded into the walls of the Condominium Unit simply repairing the cause of the leak does not always stop the growth of mold. Even if you can’t see mold, like in the picture above, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t being affected.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], [the U.S. Occupational and Safety Administration —OSHA], the American Lung Association and other groups have listed mold as a detriment to indoor air quality and building occupant health.”

Many Condominium Associations  and Homeowner’s Associations respond to owner complaints by telling them that it is the owner’s responsibility to repair the interior of their home.  Unfortunately for many Condominium Owners and Homeowners in Florida, their individual insurance policies either do not cover mold or have exclusions drastically limiting the amount of coverage available for mold damage.  Moreover, the advice owners are getting from their Association Board members is often incorrect. While it may be true that owners are responsible for maintaining the interior of their homes that does not relieve the Association of  its non-delegable duty to maintain the common elements.

Under Florida Law the Association is responsible for all damages proximately caused by its failure to maintain the common elements.  Because the association’s duty is non-delegable the Association will have very few defenses to the owner’s claim. 

 Some of the various elements of damage that can be claimed are:  loss of use; cleaning, restoration and rebuilding; mold remediation;  reimbursement for property taxes for an unusable dwelling; replacement of fixtures, furniture and contents; damages for physical injuries and illnesses from living in a toxic environment; medical expenses and   loss of rent.

Unfortunately very few owners are ever fully compensated when dealing with their Associations on their own. That’s why it is important to retain an experienced Florida Atorney that specializes in representing Condominium Owners, Co-op Owners and Homeowners resolve claims against their Associations.   We fight for the rights of condo owners, homeowners and cooperative owners.

If you would like to get a confidential case evaluation from an experienced attorney click here now.

 

25
MAY
2010

Condominium Association Failure to Maintain Common Elements-(part 1)

In deciding whether to file a lawsuit against your Condominium Association or Homeowner’s Association, one of the most powerful claims that can be raised is the Association’s failure to maintain the common elements.

For Condominium Associations governed by Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes, Section 718.113(1) provides in material part the following: “Maintenance of the common elements is the responsibility of the association.”  For Homeowner’s  Associations governed by Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes, Section 720.303(1) also provides that maintenance of the common elements is the responsibility of the association.

Neither Condo Owners or Homeowners are required to arbitrate their claim of failure to maintain the common elements. Condo Owners do not have to go through any type of Alternative Dispute Resolution if their claim is based upon the Association’s failure to maintain the common elements. They may proceed directly with the filing of a lawsuit in the appropriate State Court in the County where the Association is located.  Note: Homeowners governed by Chapter 720 must first comply with the Presuit Demand for Mandatory Non-binding Mediation before filing suit otherwise they may forfeit the right to claim attorney’s fees and costs.

Many Associations have provisions in the Governing Documents defining the Common Elements and making the Association responsible for maintaining them. Usually these provisions are found in the Association’s Declaration. Although each Association may have different provisions, the majority of Condo Associations declare that everything beyond the drywall of the individual units is deemed to be common elements. Some of the typical common elements include, the roof of the building;  pipes, wires, conduits, or other public utility lines running through the individual unit which serve more than one unit. Some associations require the Condo owner to maintain the plumbing and electrical that is inside their unit- some do not. It is important for a condo owner to have an experienced Florida Condominium Lawyer review the documents to determine whether the issue concerns the common elements as they are defined in the Governing Documents or if the Condo Owner is responsible for maintaining the condition at issue.

Some of the significant types of claims concerning the Association’s failure to maintain the common elements include water damage from roof leaks, mold damage, fire from faulty electrical, noise complaints from roof top generators, inadequate water cooling towers causing unit owner air conditioning to malfunction, and of course there are the obvious claims like a resident or guest being injured due to inadequate security or a dangerous condition in the common areas of the building. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured due to an Association’s failure to maintain the common elements and want more information about getting an experienced Florida Trial Attorney to take your case on a contingency basis please click here.  (be sure to click one of the links on the upper right of this page to suscribe to this feed so that you don’t miss part 2 of this article or any future articles)