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Condo Inusrance & Liability.

Been the victim of Legal Malpractice? Discuss it here.

Condo Inusrance & Liability.

Postby gobrwy » Thu Nov 24, 2016 7:06 pm

~feel free to repost and remove from question board...

What a fantastic site you have - I believe my question was answered already - but I would love reassurance. ~

I own a condo which I rent in Florida.

My tub has a leak which has caused significant damage to the unit below.  I was just made aware of this issue the other day.

My tenant as stopped using that shower and we have proceeded with obtaining quotes and repairs.

I was unaware of the change of law requiring me to have  unit insurance and do not have any, however I will obtain insurance tomorrow.  I do not believe the association has yet done this on my behalf, as I have not been billed by them.  If so, I know I am in the wrong about that and will fix that accordingly.

I am prepared to repair my unit at my cost - and am not looking for the association or anyone to cover my repairs.

Reading 718:111 p11(f)1 states they are responsible to restore the unit to which it was originally plans and specs Q: that wouldn't include tile or tub right?(just in case, cant hurt to ask)

Q: My tenant did not make me aware of any issues related to the tub - ie. rust around flange at drain - the cause of the leak as determined by lower unit owner's plumber and my plumber.

Also - the unit owner below me states the Association informed them that I am required to have insurance and I am liable to repairs to their unit.

Including all repairs to my unit, plumbing, drywall and tile in both bathrooms.

Q: Am I negligent if I did not know there was a problem? Q: Is negligence and issue here?

Q: Am I liable even if I am not negligent(ie. stopped future damage, and begun repairs)

The unit owner told me they could hear the water every time upstairs unit ran the shower - yet they did/said nothing to the association, which would have notified me upon examination.

Please feel free to expand - on anything here I may be missing.

We have a "legal benefit" through my husbands work, so I will probably call them, if for nothing more than to ask my free questions - Again ~ fantastic source of information I will be sure to share with my friends and colleagues - Thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Marykay,

Welcome to the joys and confusion of condo ownership!  This is probably not going to be a fun venture for you because, unfortunately, most condo associations and management companies don't understand the law and how to separate it from their by-laws.  And that's not even taking into consideration all the different opinions that float around.  Fortunately, you came to the right place because we are heavily involved in that whole situation, including currently proposed legislation that will fix some of the wording glitches in the statute that took effect in January.

Hopefully I will hit all the points you addressed above, but if I miss any or create new questions, please feel free to continue to contact me.

First of all, I want to address the potential "liability" issue that you raise.  Liability, as you have correctly pointed out, is based on negligence. We define negligence as the "failure to do what a prudent person would do under similar circumstances." Basically, negligence is created when you know that there is a problem but you fail to do something about it.  A sudden and accidental leak is NOT negligence. Even the fact that a small amount of rust existed doesn't necessarily create negligence...and beyond that, if you didn't know about it, how could you fix it.  The fact of the matter is that it would be extremely difficult for someone to prove negligence and that right is actually determined by the court system, not a condo board of directors.

Water damage resulting from leaks is the number one claim in the condo world. When it comes to claim time, each person is responsible for the damage to their property and the association is responsible to fix the "common elements" as defined in Florida Statute.

While the statute requires(sort of) unit owners to have coverage, there is no mechanism for enforcement in the law.  In addition, I haven't heard of any markets willing to write force-placed condo coverage.  Add that to the fact that the statute just took effect on January 1, and I don't think it puts you in any vulnerable position at this time.  I would bet that your association hasn't even considered a way to handle forced placements.

Now...let's talk about the actual damage.  The statute requires you to be responsible for about 10 items.  Those items include wall coverings, floor coverings, and ceiling coverings.  We typically think of wall coverings as paint or wallpaper, so shower tile may fall into a gray area.  My first inclination is to say that it would be your responsibility.  The tub, on the other hand, would be the responsibility of the association, unless it was upgraded by you.  Anything inside the tile...drywall, etc...is the responsibility of the association.

Finally, I would just point out once again that you will be responsible for fixing the items you are required under Florida Statute to insure within your unit.  The unit owner below you will be responsible for those items in their unit.  The association will be responsible for the "common items" in both units.  If that damage is below the association's deductible, by Florida Statute, they cannot charge that to you and/or the other unit owner. It must be paid for by all unit owners since it is damage to property that is collectively owned.

I hope that helps some.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

~ First I want to say thank you again, and WOW - FAST reply!!!~

I think it does - it does present more questions as how to determine who would be liable for the tub and tile as they were of course installed when the unit was sold to me, however I am going to proceed as if its my responsibility and have my lawyers at prepaid legal handle that question.

My Q now really refers to the poor unit owners below me.  I must of course protect myself legally, however, I would like to guide them into the right direction to satisfy their need for speedy and very expensive repair.

Although I do not feel guilty or responsible for the damage as its not truly my fault, I do feel a responsibility as a unit owner to guide the other unit owner to protect themselves from the association which will of course work diligently to protect them selves by attempting to pass this cost to one or both of us.

They(other unit owners) seem to trust that the association is protecting them - which you and I know is not true in this case.

At this point I won't even call them - but when they call me - do you have a recommendation for them that I can pass on?  Should I have them call the Ombudsman?
gobrwy
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:18 pm

Condo Inusrance & Liability.

Postby Dorien » Sun Nov 27, 2016 8:16 am

~feel free to repost and remove from question board...

What a fantastic site you have - I believe my question was answered already - but I would love reassurance. ~

I own a condo which I rent in Florida.

My tub has a leak which has caused significant damage to the unit below.  I was just made aware of this issue the other day.

My tenant as stopped using that shower and we have proceeded with obtaining quotes and repairs.

I was unaware of the change of law requiring me to have  unit insurance and do not have any, however I will obtain insurance tomorrow.  I do not believe the association has yet done this on my behalf, as I have not been billed by them.  If so, I know I am in the wrong about that and will fix that accordingly.

I am prepared to repair my unit at my cost - and am not looking for the association or anyone to cover my repairs.

Reading 718:111 p11(f)1 states they are responsible to restore the unit to which it was originally plans and specs Q: that wouldn't include tile or tub right?(just in case, cant hurt to ask)

Q: My tenant did not make me aware of any issues related to the tub - ie. rust around flange at drain - the cause of the leak as determined by lower unit owner's plumber and my plumber.

Also - the unit owner below me states the Association informed them that I am required to have insurance and I am liable to repairs to their unit.

Including all repairs to my unit, plumbing, drywall and tile in both bathrooms.

Q: Am I negligent if I did not know there was a problem? Q: Is negligence and issue here?

Q: Am I liable even if I am not negligent(ie. stopped future damage, and begun repairs)

The unit owner told me they could hear the water every time upstairs unit ran the shower - yet they did/said nothing to the association, which would have notified me upon examination.

Please feel free to expand - on anything here I may be missing.

We have a "legal benefit" through my husbands work, so I will probably call them, if for nothing more than to ask my free questions - Again ~ fantastic source of information I will be sure to share with my friends and colleagues - Thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Marykay,

Welcome to the joys and confusion of condo ownership!  This is probably not going to be a fun venture for you because, unfortunately, most condo associations and management companies don't understand the law and how to separate it from their by-laws.  And that's not even taking into consideration all the different opinions that float around.  Fortunately, you came to the right place because we are heavily involved in that whole situation, including currently proposed legislation that will fix some of the wording glitches in the statute that took effect in January.

Hopefully I will hit all the points you addressed above, but if I miss any or create new questions, please feel free to continue to contact me.

First of all, I want to address the potential "liability" issue that you raise.  Liability, as you have correctly pointed out, is based on negligence. We define negligence as the "failure to do what a prudent person would do under similar circumstances." Basically, negligence is created when you know that there is a problem but you fail to do something about it.  A sudden and accidental leak is NOT negligence. Even the fact that a small amount of rust existed doesn't necessarily create negligence...and beyond that, if you didn't know about it, how could you fix it.  The fact of the matter is that it would be extremely difficult for someone to prove negligence and that right is actually determined by the court system, not a condo board of directors.

Water damage resulting from leaks is the number one claim in the condo world. When it comes to claim time, each person is responsible for the damage to their property and the association is responsible to fix the "common elements" as defined in Florida Statute.

While the statute requires(sort of) unit owners to have coverage, there is no mechanism for enforcement in the law.  In addition, I haven't heard of any markets willing to write force-placed condo coverage.  Add that to the fact that the statute just took effect on January 1, and I don't think it puts you in any vulnerable position at this time.  I would bet that your association hasn't even considered a way to handle forced placements.

Now...let's talk about the actual damage.  The statute requires you to be responsible for about 10 items.  Those items include wall coverings, floor coverings, and ceiling coverings.  We typically think of wall coverings as paint or wallpaper, so shower tile may fall into a gray area.  My first inclination is to say that it would be your responsibility.  The tub, on the other hand, would be the responsibility of the association, unless it was upgraded by you.  Anything inside the tile...drywall, etc...is the responsibility of the association.

Finally, I would just point out once again that you will be responsible for fixing the items you are required under Florida Statute to insure within your unit.  The unit owner below you will be responsible for those items in their unit.  The association will be responsible for the "common items" in both units.  If that damage is below the association's deductible, by Florida Statute, they cannot charge that to you and/or the other unit owner. It must be paid for by all unit owners since it is damage to property that is collectively owned.

I hope that helps some.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

~ First I want to say thank you again, and WOW - FAST reply!!!~

I think it does - it does present more questions as how to determine who would be liable for the tub and tile as they were of course installed when the unit was sold to me, however I am going to proceed as if its my responsibility and have my lawyers at prepaid legal handle that question.

My Q now really refers to the poor unit owners below me.  I must of course protect myself legally, however, I would like to guide them into the right direction to satisfy their need for speedy and very expensive repair.

Although I do not feel guilty or responsible for the damage as its not truly my fault, I do feel a responsibility as a unit owner to guide the other unit owner to protect themselves from the association which will of course work diligently to protect them selves by attempting to pass this cost to one or both of us.

They(other unit owners) seem to trust that the association is protecting them - which you and I know is not true in this case.

At this point I won't even call them - but when they call me - do you have a recommendation for them that I can pass on?  Should I have them call the Ombudsman?
Dorien
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:40 am

Condo Inusrance & Liability.

Postby Oren » Mon Nov 28, 2016 1:02 am

Hi Marykay,

You're quite welcome.  I try to get to these as quickly as I can...some days I'm a little quicker than others!  :)

This is going to sound really cold, and I don't mean it to be, but the poor unit owner below needs to get busy and get something done.  I can't believe that they would let water damage hang around and not do anything about it.  I do understand the feeling of being a responsible neighbor and wanting to help them along, though.

I think the best thing you can do if they call is to tell them that you have been researching the law as to who is responsible for what repairs and help them decide to push the association to get moving.  If needed, you could direct them to the Bureau of Mobile Homes, Land Sales, and Condominiums to get more information regarding the situation.  

It sounds to me like they will have a hard time understanding that the association isn't protecting them.  

Let me know if you have additional questions.
Oren
 
Posts: 39
Joined: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:58 am


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