by Richard White / Published December 2014
I have lived in my oceanfront condominium for more than 20 years. Recently, my doors leading to my balcony are showing wear and tear. I believe they need to be replaced. There’s nothing in our rules book about the replacement of the doors and who is responsible. Can you guide me with an answer as to who is responsible for the cost to replace the doors?
SP, Ft. Pierce
There is no one correct answer. When you refer to the rules book, I assume you are referring to the condominium documents. Each condominium would be guided by their condominium’s documents. I have seen it where the owners would be responsible or where the condominium is responsible. In one case, the owner was responsible unless they had storm damage. My recommendation for you is to send a letter to the board of directors and ask them the buildings policy on the door and window replacement. If the board cannot supply an answer that is found in the documents, they must have the association attorney render an opinion letter. Keep in mind the building components such as windows and doors will wear out and need repairs or replacement. The responsibility of these repairs or replacement should be found in your documents, but they may need a legal interpretation.
I recently read your column where you advised that a leak from an upstairs apartment causing damage below is not the responsibility of the upstairs apartment. I disagree with the answer you gave, where you said that the upstairs apartment was not responsible for the downstairs damage. This happened to me recently, and the upstairs apartment owner paid for my damage repairs. Can you print a retracted answer stating that only the upstairs apartment would be responsible?
CD, Sunny Island Beach
No, my answer was correct in that all owners would be responsible to repair their unit’s damage. The exception would be that the condominium would be responsible to repair or replace unfinished drywalls. If the upstairs owner repaired your damage, then consider yourself lucky. The best source to obtain verification of my answer is to talk with your insurance agent. Find out what your insurance policy will cover for damage claims. Find out if your insurance will pay for damage to other units. In 2005, after the hurricane damage of 2004, the state changed the condominium laws requiring all owners to obtain insurance to cover damage to their unit. Over the next couple of years, this law was modified by only recommending owners insurance. I have had personal experience as the manager in a high-rise building where an upper floor unit flooded several units on lower floors. One of these owners that suffered damage sued the upstairs owner that caused the flood. The judge ruled that each owner was responsible for his damage and not just the upper floor unit owner because the upper floor unit was not negligent, nor did he intend to cause damage to the other units. All condominium unit owners should carry insurance to cover damage or loss to their unit and personal property. This insurance coverage will only cover your property and not the property of other unit owners. If your unit causes damage to those below, will you be responsible to pay for damage to the units? I will answer that question; no, you will not be responsible to pay for other owners’ losses.
We reside in an older HOA, in which during the housing market recovery, a number of investors purchased properties. A few of these investors/owners are renting their properties to Section 8 renters. The owners of the property are refusing to have their renters register with the HOA. The property owners say it violates the Section 8 renters’ privacy. Is this action allowed under the Florida statutes? We realize this is a sensitive issue and would appreciate any guidance you can provide.
SW, Port St Lucie
First, check the requirements in your documents. If you have a rental registration requirement, I would pose the question to your association attorney and seek a written opinion letter. I do not know of any privacy rights as such that you described in this question. You will always find conflict between federal laws, state laws, and your documents. There’s also the safety and security issue if you do not know the occupants and residents in your community. Follow the recommendations that your attorney advises.
Our condominium is currently developer controlled but soon to be turned over to the owners. We have encountered an issue with our private/paid parking area located under the building. The parking is purchased and privately deeded to the owner. The county forced the developer to place one handicap spot in this area even though this area is considered “private paid parking” and access to this area should be granted to only those individuals who bought the parking spots. There is an owner who lives in the building who is handicapped and forced the developer’s association (by threatening to contact ADA) if he was not given a gate clicker to access the handicap spot. The other owners do not think it is fair to have someone use a private paid parking spot at their leisure without paying for it as they have done. What can be done to stop this owner from abusing the open spot? There is also another owner whose son is handicapped who was using the spot, but then a fight broke out among the handicapped individuals and a car was vandalized. There are plenty of handicapped spots outside of this private, purchased parking area and more could be added outside, if necessary.
KM, Hutchinson Island
Handicap parking cannot be reserved for one owner. Such parking is open for any handicapped person to use. Since the developer is still in control of the condominium, I would suggest that the developer seek guidance from his attorney. If I were the manager, I would advise the board to advise all owners that handicapped parking is open for the first handicapped person and cannot be reserved. As to a remote control, if the other owners purchase them, then all the owners must pay for their remote control.
I just received a letter from the condominium manager regarding an owner meeting. In the letter, one of the main items coming up is four of the five members on the board are not seeking re-election. This is a bad situation; these members were experienced and were a group that had the best interest of the condominium. They always had all owners’ interest as a priority. What happens if no one wants to be on the board?
I am pretty sure the board cannot function with only one person.
You are correct in that the board cannot function with vacancies on the board. If you do not have candidates willing to put their name for the members to vote on at the annual meeting, then the one remaining director can attempt to seek volunteers to serve [reference: FS 617.0809]. If no one in the community volunteers to serve, then you must petition the courts to appoint a receiver. While boards of directors are servient to the members, a receiver must answer to the courts (Judge). A receiver will operate the association in accordance with the statutes, documents, and good business procedures but not in service of the members but under the Judge’s orders. Cost for receivers and court costs will be added to your bud-get. That means your fees will not only pay for the budgeted items to operate the association but the receivers in court cost. I would highly recommend that members of the community volunteer their efforts in service to become a director. The choice is really yours and your neighbors to either volunteer or pay the extra cost.