Heavy rains are a normal occurrence in Florida. And while Floridians are well accustomed to preparing for and dealing with drenching storms and high winds, it is just as important to be diligent in the aftermath of the storm. This is particularly true for condominium owners who suffer water damage to their units due to a leaky roof or stucco. Your Association is responsible for maintaining common elements, including the roof and exterior, and you may be able to pursue a water damage claim against your Association if it has been negligent in maintenance and repair.
Whenever you experience heavy rains, especially if accompanied by high winds, it is important to conduct a thorough — interior and exterior — inspection of your condo unit when it is safe to do so. You should look carefully for signs of a leaky roof, leaky stucco, hardwood floor water damage, and ceiling water damage. If you notice any of these signs, it is critical that you notify your Association promptly so that repairs are made as soon as possible, to prevent further damage.
Is your roof leaking? Signs of a leaky roof include:
Is your stucco leaking? The telltale warning signs of stucco problems are: cracks in the stucco; missing chips or chunks of stucco; window caulk gapping or cracking; damp-looking stucco; cracks and bubbles along the bottom edge of the wall; Inside of drywall below the window feels soft; and moisture on the basement walls.
Are my hardwood floors water damaged? Signs of water damage to hardwood floors include: staining and discoloration; cupping and moisture causing it to buckle; lifting nails; lifting floorboards; mold growth.
If you discover any signs of a leaky roof, leaky stucco, or water damaged hardwood floors, you should notify your Association as soon as possible. Leaky roofs and stucco water intrusion can lead to disastrous consequences in the event of heavy rains. Left unaddressed, water damage can lead to mold growth, which can be harmful to your health and expensive and time-consuming to remove. If you do discover black mold in your unit, identifying the source of the mold, hiring a mold assessor, and notifying your HOA or Condo Association should be your first three steps.
Importantly, before you try to deal with repairs to your unit caused by a leaky roof or other common element, you must notify your Association. If the leak is not fixed, then any interior repairs are likely to last only until the next rainstorm. Unfortunately, many Associations use delaying tactics and your complaint may fall on deaf ears. Furthermore, the Association’s governing documents will likely preclude you from hiring contractors to fix a leaky roof.
Under Florida law, if your Association has failed to properly maintain the common elements and you suffer water damage to your unit during a storm, the Association should be responsible. You may have to be persistent and complain to your Association multiple times before they take any action or even acknowledge responsibility for the damage. Dealing with water and mold damage claims in Florida can be very difficult. We have high humidity levels and many Condo Associations will try to blame the cause on something you did to avoid responsibility. One of the first priorities is identifying where the water is coming into the unit and who is responsible. An experienced condo attorney that represents owners can help you with this process and get the Association to take your complaint seriously and make the necessary repairs. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations for negligence is four years.
If you need assistance pursuing a water damage claim against your Florida Condo Association or HOA, we welcome you to contact us at (954) 966-3909.
We serve the legal needs of individual condominium owners, homeowners and cooperative owners in resolving disputes with their associations throughout Florida, including Broward, Dade and Palm Beach Counties, as well as Hollywood, Davie, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale, Sunny Isles, Aventura, Miami, North Miami, Brickell, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Naples. We never represent associations.
Please note that free case evaluation is by telephone and does not include legal advice. Office consults with legal advice are available on a flat fee basis.