Water Leaks in Florida Condominiums: Association Responsibilities and Cost Reduction Strategies

Leaks are common in condominiums and are a constant headache for associations. Given this, you’d think there would be straightforward and consistent process for handling leaks to ensure that everyone shares the burden of repairing the water damage fairly, and in accordance with the association’s governing documents and the Florida Statutes (Chapter 718.111(11) Insurance). Unfortunately, it’s not that simple and more often than not homeowners, or the association, have to come out of pocket to repair damage caused in whole or in part by another. This blog will examine the division of responsibilities and will recommend strategies the association may use to help protect itself and its homeowners.

Rule of Thumb: When dealing with property maintenance or repair, look to the governing documents to determine who is responsible. When dealing with damage caused by a casualty, look to Florida Statute 718.111(11)(f) to determine who is responsible.

Per Florida Statute 718.111(11)(f), the association is responsible for everything except the following, for which the unit owner is responsible: all personal property within the unit or limited common elements, and floor, wall, and ceiling coverings, electrical fixtures, appliances, water heaters, water filters, built-in cabinets and countertops, and window treatments, including curtains, drapes, blinds, hardware, and similar window treatment components, or replacements of any of the foregoing which are located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit.

The legal and insurance community has taken the above to mean that “drywall out” is the responsibility of the Association but “drywall finishes (i.e., texture and paint) in” and “bare floor up” are the homeowner’s responsibility.

Example 1: A Toilet Leak, A Water Heater Leak, A Washing Machine Leak or A Hot Water Heater Leak

A 2nd story homeowner’s toilet has suddenly begun to leak due to a faulty wax ring, causing damage to the homeowner’s unit as well as the ceiling, walls and floors of the unit below. The association’s documents state that repair and replacement of toilets is the homeowner’s responsibility. As such, the homeowner is required to repair or replace the toilet. However, the damage resulting from the leaking toilet is considered a casualty and would fall under the Insurance Statute.

In this example, there are three parties involved: the Association, the homeowner whose toilet caused the leak, and the below homeowner.  We will assume for now that there was no negligence on the part of the homeowner with the leaking toilet (i.e., the homeowner didn’t know, or shouldn’t have known, that the toilet was leaking or going to leak). In this scenario, responsibility for damage caused by the leak would be divided as follows:

  1. The Association will repair the drywall and any damaged studs, insulation or electrical wiring within the walls.
  2. The homeowners will individually repair the personal property within their units, any damaged flooring, and the finishes on the drywall (e.g., paint, texture or wall paper).

Each party may contact their respective insurance company (condominium homeowner’s are not required to have insurance per the Florida Statutes but they may per the governing documents) to help cover the cost of the repairs.

The condominium statutes are silent regarding who is responsible for the cost of the initial dry out of the unit after water damage (i.e., removing standing water and installing proper fans). Obviously both the homeowner and the association are protecting their property by ensuring that all water is removed, no further damage is caused, and no mold issues develop. A proper dry out can be very costly and it is up to the association and homeowner to decide who will pay for this service. In my experience, it is easiest for the association to pay for the dry out as it moves the repair process along and ensures the association is meeting its fiduciary duty to protect the condominium property (failure to properly dry out a unit could cause deterioration to structural parts of the building). Another option is to split the cost with the homeowner. Further, if the homeowner has insurance, and intends to file a claim, the insurance company will often pay for the cost of the dry out.

Example 2: A Toilet Leak, A Water Heater Leak, A Washing Machine Leak or A Hot Water Heater Leak With Homeowner Negligence, Intentional Conduct or Failure to Comply with Association Rules

According to 718.111(11)(j), if damage to the condominium property is caused by homeowner negligence, intentional conduction or failure to comply with the rules of the association, the homeowner is responsible for repairing ALL portions of the damaged condominium property not covered by insurance proceeds. Further, according to 718.111(11)(g), when a homeowner is determined by the association to meet the criteria listed in paragraph (j), the association may complete the repair work to the condominium property (excluding the personal property of the homeowners) and charge the cost of the work to the homeowner. If the homeowner fails to pay, the association may collect the cost as if it were an assessment (see our blog on Collections Policies for more information). The homeowners that have sustained damage to their personal property (i.e. everything covered under Florida Statute 718.111(11)(f)) have the option to pursue legal action against the negligent homeowner.

So, in our example, let’s say that a plumber told the homeowner previously that the wax ring needed to be replaced in the toilet or a leak may occur but the homeowner chose not to make the repair. Or, let’s say that the wax ring actually began leaking because the homeowner (or homeowner’s guest) attempted to make a repair to the toilet himself and failed to properly reset the wax ring. In these case, the homeowner could be perceived as being negligent and the association may choose to complete a full dry out of the unit as well as make all repairs to the common elements (i.e. drywall out), and charge the homeowner that create the leak for the full cost. This statute gives the association a significant amount of power and the association should be careful as to how they enforce it. Negligence is often a matter of perspective and the burden of proof is on the association. As such, the association should obtain an opinion from legal counsel before deciding if they consider a homeowner negligent or not.

Enforcement Tip: Negligence is a very tricky topic. To avoid the likelihood of a legal battle, the association should build negligence into their rules and regulations whenever possible by creating a clear-cut definition of actions that are considered negligent.

As it relates to leaks due to an unexpected casualty, one such rule would be: “Homeowners MUST turn off the water to their unit if the unit is going to be vacant for more than 48 hours”. Leaving water on when there is no one in the unit that would notice a leak has been considered negligence by Florida courts in the past. Because the Board would adopt this as a rule of the association, Florida Statute 718.111(11)(j) allows the association to charge the homeowner who has not complied with this rule the full cost of repairing damage due to a water leak stemming from their unit. This is a particularly effective rule given that leaks from vacant units are frequent and tend to cause more damage than those from occupied units.

Another rule may be: “Homeowner’s (or their guests) must provide proof of liability insurance prior to completing any repairs or renovations to their units. With this rule in place, if a homeowner caused a leak themselves (which happens frequently) the association will either have the homeowner’s insurance information already and can immediately place a claim, or, if the homeowner failed to provide proof of insurance, the association may charge the homeowner the full cost of repairing the damage to the common elements caused by the leak.

 

Example 3: Professional plumber causes leak while replacing shower faucet

A 2nd story homeowner hires a plumber to replace the shower faucet. The plumber did not properly seal one of the connections, which began to leak and caused water damage to the ceiling and walls of the unit below. In this scenario, the plumber’s liability insurance would likely cover the cost to repair all damage to the property (including the homeowners’ personal property). However, if the plumber is not insured or refuses to provide his insurance information to the effected parties, the cost of repairs may end up falling to the association and the homeowner who suffered water damage, or their respective insurance companies. The association and/ or effected homeowner could choose to take legal action against the plumber and/ or the homeowner who hired the plumber but this can often be cost-prohibitive, particularly if the damage was not severe. To help reduce the burden on the association and effected homeowners, the association can choose to put specific rules in place relating to maintenance or renovation work completed by a 3rd party vendor.

Enforcement Tip: The association should consider making it a rule that homeowners MUST utilize licensed and insured vendors, and must provide to the association proof of liability insurance for any vendor working within their unit prior to work commencing. As some vendors may be less willing to provide their insurance information after they have caused a leak at a job site, this requirement protects the association and homeowners, as it will allow the association to immediately place a claim for the damage. Further, if the homeowner failed to obtain proof of insurance, Florida Statute 718.111(11)(j) allows the association to charge the homeowner who has not complied with this rule the full cost of repairing damage to the common elements.

Developing proper strategies for preventing and responding to leaks is a complicated topic and should be discussed with the association’s attorney. A “leak action plan” should be established for all representatives to follow. To avoid legal action, consistent and effective response is key. When making changes to the association’s rules and regulations that have the level of impact these “negligence” rules do, it is important that the association communicate to the membership to ensure that homeowners are properly informed of the new rules.

Feel free to reach out with any questions.

Thanks,

Emily

P.S. If you are a condominium homeowner who has recently experienced a water leak and you are looking for clarification on your rights and responsibilities, please contact us. Ryan (my husband/ co-blogger) offers legal counsel and practical advice on these issues at a reasonable hourly rate for our readers. There are no retainers required or minimum fees. Send me an email at emily@flcondoassociationadvisor.com and I will respond promptly with more information and next steps. 

45 Responses to Water Leaks in Florida Condominiums: Association Responsibilities and Cost Reduction Strategies

  1. Emily & Ryan,

    Great wealth of information. I know you both have experienced water issues at a condo first hand and I remember you taking care of things quickly.

  2. My shower P-Trap which is in the ceiling wall below me.
    is cracked and leaked water in the unit below.
    Who is responsible to pay for the P-Trap and work? since its located in the ceiling wall?

    • Hi Graham –

      Thanks for your question. Your situation is a common one. P-traps frequently leak. Your association’s documents will specify whether or not p-traps are the unit owner’s or association’s responsibility. Whomever your documents specify as the responsible party will need to repair the cracked p-trap. If you are unsure after looking at your documents, you may need to consult an attorney. As this type of leak would be considered a casualty, the responsibility to repair any damaged common or personal property should be divided per Florida Statutes Chapter 718.111(11).

      Please let me know if you have further questions.

      Emily

  3. Emily:
    I really appreciate the professional information you forwarded me, due to the fact that the association has not supplied me with the By Laws, The management company stated I have to pay $50.00 to get a copy, because the owner and relator should have given me a copy, which it was impossible due to the fact my unit was a foreclosure from the bank. Do I have to pay for the By Laws? I understand if I had a copy and lost it, but I never had a copy.

    • Hi Graham –

      The association has the right to charge its actual cost for production of the bylaws (see 718.111(12)). Regardless, the governing documents of the association are public record and therefore should be available through your county clerk of court’s website.

      Emily

  4. I hope you can help me. Our Condominium has been under restoration for almost 3 years. We have had to endure jackhammers etc. for all this time. I know that the building needs to be kept in good shape and I have been trying to swallow the pain of the $37,000 assessment that was required to do it. My problem is that I a 74 year old woman who must use a wheelchair full time. My Husband has diabetes and a really bad heart. Therefore neither of us is able to clean the major concrete dust and mud. The biggest problem is the complete exterior of our unit is all glass and sliding doors from floor to ceiling. In our Documents it states that the Association is responsible for damage to personal units if they are damaged by work that the Association is doing. They removed all of this glass and laid it on the patio for almost 2 months. We are right on the ocean and the wind is sometimes very strong. We kept telling the foreman of the Construction company that they were banging around. They moved them a little bit and that was their remedy. They reinstalled the windows, screens and doors but they are filthy with construction mud. The solar film is scratched and has digs. I asked for these thing to be fixed and I was told that Florida Law had changed the rules about Associations fixing the damage they do to our units. I have looked line by line in the online Florida Laws and I can’t find anything that supersedes this provision. Do you know of anything that does this? Thank you for you help.

    • HI Vicki –

      I’m sorry to hear what you are going through. I have never heard of any statute that would indicate that the Association is not responsible for damage to an unit caused by the Association or a vendor of the Association. That would make no sense as it would give the Association no incentive to behave prudently. I would challenge your Association to prove their claims.

      The Association should take responsibility for their contractors and if the contractors do not repair damage that they have done, the Association should not pay them. The Association should be protecting the homeowners not the contractors. If I were you I would take LOTs of pictures of the damage, document all conversations you have had with the Association, and consider calling a lawyer.

      Happy to discuss further,

      Emily

  5. Emily Shaw
    I had a leak in the pipe to my shower attached to the main pipe inside the wall.
    The statue 718.111 says “portion inside of wall associations responsibility” , “portion outside of dry wall owners responsibility”. Several sections of dry wall were cut out in two closets pipe was fixed but association says dry wall is my expense because 718.111 is only for emergency. Please explain if this is true and why.

    • Hi Marion –

      I believe your association is referring to 718.111(11), which lists those parts of the condominium property that the association is responsible for insuring. If damage is caused by an insurable event, the association is responsible for paying for the repairing the damage to those parts of the condominium property captured in this statute. As it relates to walls, the homeowner is responsible for “wall coverings” according to this statute. That generally means the homeowner is responsible for texture, paint and wallpaper while the association is responsible for the drywall itself.

      If your association has told you that they will only repair drywall in the event of an “emergency”, I would argue that they are wrong. They are responsible in the case of an insurable event, which may or may not be considered an emergency. If your pipe began leaking unexpectedly (maybe some sealant deterioration) and the solution involved cutting out and replacing drywall, then I would argue that it is the association’s responsibility to replace the drywall.

      Of course, there are many complications with these rules and every case is unique. I’m not a lawyer and a lawyer is really what you would need to tell you for sure.

      Wish I could be more help.

      Emily

  6. Emily?
    I have a water situation that I hope you may help clarify for me. I live in a condo and recently one day I felt some water between the grout joints on my tile. Well actually I took notes each day of this situation and I emailed them to my father for some help so I will just past the email in here.
    Floor water issues retyped from my hand written notes

    Thursday 5/08/14
    I stepped on some water in a crack between my tiles in front of couch. I thought my wife spilled some water or something like that.
    Friday 5/09/14
    My wife and I were now seeing discoloration in the baseboards and we noticed water in the kitchen. The water was in an area by my refrigerator. I thought the drain pan was clogged. I pulled it away from its’ space and moved it onto my back deck so that I could thoroughly clean it. The pan was not clogged and there was still water on my kitchen floor and wall so I left the refrigerator on a different wall in the kitchen until I could locate the source of the water. I used my shop vac to get the water from the floor. Within 10 minutes the water was beginning to return again. I then thought the problem may be from my air handler which was located upstairs but on the same wall the water was coming from. The drain pan for the air handler was dry and the drain pipe outside of my condo was draining working properly. Since by this time it was after 5pm and the amount of water at this point was not too significant I was not going to call a plumber for an emergency weekend call. I felt I could control the water until I could have it looked at on Monday. I took a flashlight and could see beads of water along the caulk joint between the floor and the wall where the water was coming from. I pulled 2 cabinets ( one on either side of my stove) away from the wall in question. The particle board substrate from the cabinets was starting to absorb water from the floor . With the wall free and easy to access I could see water coming up from the junction between the bottom of the wall and the laminate flooring. I vacuumed up the water and put towels down.
    Saturday 05/10/14
    I woke up at 6am when my cat jumped on my bed and I noticed he was very wet. I went downstairs and discovered water on the tile in my living room and in the closet that shares a wall with the kitchen and water all over the kitchen floor as well. I had to empty my 5HP shop vac 4 or 5 times to clean up all of the water that had built up over the night. The water was not just on top of the kitchen flooring but it had worked its way under the tiles in the living room and between the grout joints. The closet was smelling badly which drew my attention to it and I saw that several of the tiles in it were loose and I pulled them out and saw water underneath them and what appeared to be a puddle of thin set. Around
    1PM I shut the water to my unit off at the valve located under my hose bib on my back porch. At this point I was vacuuming approximately 3 gallons of water an hour from the kitchen floor that was coming from the wall in the corner where the refrigerator is normally located. The water would start to leak from this point at the space between the drywall and the floor and gravity would take it across the kitchen entrance along the seam between the vinyl flooring of the kitchen and the tile flooring of the living room. The water would then start to accumulate in front of the dish washer. When I realized that my water had been turned off for over 4 hours and there was no reduction in the amount of water still coming into my condo I went over to my neighbor Norma’s house. I explained to her what was going on and told her what steps I had taken to find the source of the water and I asked her if she had had any work done recently or if she had noticed any water in her house. She said no and gave me the number of a plumber friend of hers that had done work for her in the past named Kent. I told her that my water was physically shut off and that I wanted her to shut hers off as well. She was not receptive to my suggestion but finally did shut it off for a few hours. I called the plumber but he told me that he was too busy at the time to come over and look at my problem. I later told her that I noticed a difference in the amount of water still leaking while her water was shut off. Norma seemed to doubt me stating that “ why is she not experiencing any flooding as I was if the leak was from her pipes?”
    Sunday 5/11/14
    I woke up and the water was much worse. My living room was wet, the baseboards were dark and warping and the vinyl tiles in the kitchen and the bathroom were coming up and warping. The water was getting under the walls and the floor in the kitchen. I was cleaning up the water again and in the process of doing so I slipped in a puddle of water on a piece of vinyl tile that was no longer glued down. I lost my footing and fell face down and landed hitting my right side on my tool box. This knocked the wind out of me and I also hit my head on the cabinet door under the sink across from the stove. I stopped working and went to lay down.
    Monday 5/12/14
    My wife contacted a contractor that had worked on our condo in the past and he came over around 3pm He looked at the water and my walls. He also talked with Norma and looked at her walls. He did not wish to cut into her walls but felt that since her water was still on and mine was off that the leak was most likely coming from her unit. Norma contacted her plumber Kent and he instructed her to turn her water off at the meter. Norma told me she knew that her gate valve did not completely shut the water off. Within a few hours of Norma shutting her water off at the meter my floor was finally staying dry when I vacuumed
    Tuesday 5/13
    I was in such pain I could not take it anymore and I was waiting for my wife to take me to the hospital.
    While waiting for my wife I noticed the fact that portions of my cabinet had absorbed a substantial amount of water along with everything else and the closet with the tiles that popped up smelled moldy. When I went to the ER I was told that I had 2 broken ribs. They told me that I would not be able to work for 3 to 5 weeks. Since I am still within my 90 day probationary period at my job they told me that they would not hold my position and I no longer had a job.

    Wednesday 5/14/14
    At approximately 9:45am I saw Norma’s plumber pull up. I went up to him and said hi since we had spoken a few days earlier on the phone. He told me that the water issue would be fine because on Tuesday he cut a small hole in Her drywall and saw the leak. So finally on 5/14 6 days from when I first noticed a problem it was resolved although I still suffered 2 broken ribs, lost my job and needed repairs done to my condo to make in whole again.
    Friday 5/16/14
    At 2PM I went to Norma’s place to address the repairs needed to my unit to make it normal again from the water damage due to her leak. Her tone was immediately defensive and she told me that if she ( her insurance) was going to pay for my damages that she had to see all of the damage for herself. I told her that I would walk her through my place but there was no need for her to make this personal and for that reason we should leave it to the professionals her insurance company. I started showing her my problems and she asked me why the support for my cabinet next to the dish washer was wet and she said “what did you have 2 feet of water in your kitchen?” I told her that particle board absorbs water like a sponge and that capillary action is why the water rose up the cabinet. She insinuated that I was being a smart ass by using a “technical word” I told her that she asked me a question and I gave her the answer. I showed her my closet where the tiles popped up and the erosion path of thin set still on the slab. She asked me “How do I even know that tiles were there in the first place?” I pointed to my back deck and told her the damaged tiles were there in a pile. She accused me of being irritated. I told her that I was not irritated only in pain because of my 2 broken ribs. I again asked for her insurance information and she told me that when she knew what they were liable for she would contact me. She also made a reference to an accident 5 years ago when my wife’s heels were caught in the gas pedal of her car and she drove into the front facade of her condo damaging it and the inner wall of the front of her condo and she said we would do what we did then. At the time of that accident I filed an incurance claim over the phone within 2 hours to my insurance company. Her damages were taken care of. At this point Norma just looked at me and said nothing. When her plumber made her repairs Norma never even came over to my place to inquire about my place or my health. At 3PM I was going to a clinic which bases their fees on a sliding fee basis since I did not have medical insurance or a job at this point. The hospital had instructed me to report to an Orthopedic doctor within 24 hours of my ER visit but the doctor the told me to see was not involved in the county program the Hospital found for me to pay for my ER visit. I did not have the $270 of my own money to go see him. When my wife and I returned from the clinic there was a note taped to my front door from Norma. She refused to give me her insurance information. .
    please tell me what I can do about this situation
    thanks
    Jerry fogle

    • Jerry –

      I will send you a separate email shortly to discuss this in more detail.

      Emily

      • Thank you for looking into my problem. I hope I can see the follow up doctor today. I have no insurance and I am out of meds and in great pain. I hope my neighbor’s insurance will cover my bills if I ever get to that point

  7. If a vacant unit which does not appear to have been checked on for several months gets extensive mold and water damage potentially due to a toilette line and/or A/C air handler leak, would the condominium association still be liable for their negligence in periodically checking their unit? Unit had not been occupied in over one year.

    • Hi Marta –

      Actually I believe there has been some case law around this that has found that failure to turn off your water and not routinely check on the status of your unit could leave the homeowner responsible for all damage to the condominium property caused by a leak from his/ her unit. The Association may wish to consider action against the homeowner to collect the costs of repair (of course, consult an attorney). Going forward, I may recommend that the Board adopt a rule requiring homeowners to ensure their water is shutoff if they are going to be gone for any extended period of time (say 48 hours). That way, if there is a leak because the homeowner did not turn off their water, the Association may be able to use 718.111(11)(j) to collect any costs to repair damage in the same way they would an assessment.

      Let me know if you have any further questions.

      Emily

  8. ken carpenter

    Condo unit had water damage from a defective motor in the air handler that caused water damage and mold through out the condo unit. The ac unit was under warranty. The unit was empty for over a year, my question is ,is the condo association liable for the removal and replacement of the drywall? There was no other damage to any other condo units.

    Thanks
    Ken

    • Hi Ken –

      I actually just responded on a similar question to Marta on this same blog post. Take a look!

      Thanks,
      Emily

  9. My condo unit is located on the side of a common laundry room consisting of a washer and dryer. My apartment has been flooded four times in three years. I have had to call in professionals to dry out the carpet and replace sheetrock and tacking. Mold was found behind the walls from moisture. My insurance has a $1,000 deductible so I have had to pay out of pocket. Is the association responsible since they have not done anything to correctly repair the laundry room wall thus leaving my unit unprotected.

    • Hi Dan –

      Sorry to hear about your situation. I am surprised to hear that the Association has not had any involvement in the dry out or repairs to your unit. According to Florida Statutes, the drywall/ sheetrock and anything outside the drywall (e.g., studs) would be the Association’s responsibility to replace in the event of an unexpected leak. I would contact them immediately. If they try to argue that it is not their responsibility, I would contact the Association’s insurance (or insurance broker).

      The other point you bring up relates to continuous leaks and the Association’s failure to correct the issue. This gets into whether or not the Association has behaved negligently and that is a complicated thing to determine. If you continue to have leaks, you report it to the Association, and they continuously fail to resolve the problem, then you may have a case for negligence. But you would need a legal opinion on that front. Still, based on what you are telling me, the Association should be responsible to repair some of the damage to your unit regardless of negligence.

      Emily

  10. Hi emily I have situation my apt is on 2 floor and every time we flush the toilet leak on the 1 floor so the plumbing comes and open the ceiling the pipe as creck so I have to pay for the repairs or the association because is not my toilet is leaking but pipe of the toilet of the building?? Can you help me with that situation

    • Hi Leandro –

      I apologize for the very delayed response. Somehow I missed your comment! Did you get this situation resolved? Please shoot me an email if you would still like some help with this leak.

      Emily

  11. Susan Morrill

    Emily,

    I hope you can provide us with some direction, suggestion or information. My mother-in-law’s condo in Clearwater suffered extensive water and mold damage discovered June 18th. We filed a claim the next day and our insurance company’s adjuster was on-site June 20th. Additionally, a water/mold remediation company has been involved since June 19th. We signed their service authorization so that work could begin. The HOA has known about this problem since day 1. The damage was actually discovered by the HOA president who is her neighbor and was checking on her unit. Getting them to start a claim was not a smooth process. It took until July 8th for the HOA adjuster to see the unit. By that time all the contents have been removed so the drywall work could be done. There are fans and dehumidifies going 24/7 to minimize the mold, but the drywall needs to go. My problem is no one with the HOA management or their insurance companies is authorizing the work. The HOA manager says it’s the insurance company that does that, but the service company says they have never heard of that. We would rather not layout any monies and than try to go after the HOA. The idea of having to sue her neighbors does not sit well with my m-i-l. The drywall removal estimate is about $7400. Have you come across this situation before? I feel that HOA will do everything not to pay and that’s why they won’t sign the service authorization. My contact with the HOA management is the onsite property manager. I was thinking of going to the Property management company, but I definately wanted clarification as to how the process is suppose to work.

    Thanks for any input.

    Susan

    • The common area laundry room adjacent to our condo flooded our unit on June 19, 2014. To date no one from the Assoc or Mgt Co. has been to the unit to see the mess. Oh, did I mention this is the fourth flood and that they now have an attorney so I am no longer permitted to talk to them. I called the Mgt Co. and asked for the name and phone number of the Assoc. insurance co. I filed the claim with them as well as my own insurance co. My adjuster came and I had a check within two weeks but I don’t want to use it since I have a large deductible. Their adjuster came and I am still waiting for the claim to be completed. I am $5,000 out of pocket at this time since I had to pay for the water remediation and had to put down new flooring. We would move but we would have to disclose the four floods. And, my husband was President of the Assoc. during all four floods and couldn’t do a thing without a majority vote . Good luck!

  12. The condo above me is vacant and the owner lets the AC running, the AC water pump leaked into my unit. My homeowners insurance will not pay to replace the drywall saying it’s the association responsibility, the condo declaration says that the bearing walls are part of the common elements.
    What should I do ?

    • Hello –

      As you are dealing with an insurable casualty (unexpected and sudden A/C leak), we have to look to the Florida Statutes to determine who is responsible (not your documents). Your insurance company is likely right that the Association is responsible for the drywall. Is the Association aware of the issue and are they taking any responsibility? If you don’t have any luck with the property manager, request the contact information for the Association’s property insurance or insurance broker (you are entitled to this information) and discuss the situation directly with them.

      Thanks. Let us know how this plays out.

      Emily

  13. Dear Emily,

    I’ve been battling with my Condo Assn. regarding a leaking Lanai. I live on the 2nd story of a 2 story Condo. Below is a sales office. When it rains the 1st story office (lanai area) leaks. Other units within the Condo unit have had leaks as well. I suspect falty design or construction since other units have a similar problem. I’ve had my lanai rubber coated and tiled. I have also had installed sliding storm windows to avoid water on my lanai. The leaks continue and I don’t know where it is leaking from, other than a crack on the outside of the condo unit in the stucco which was filled. Who is responsible for further action and repairs? I don’t know what to do… Thanks

    Bryan

    • Hi Bryan –

      Happy to do my best to help but I think I will need more information to better understand the situation. We will also need to take a look at your documents since it seems that this is a maintenance issue. Why don’t you shoot me an email and we can discuss further.

      Thanks,

      Emily

  14. The Board of Directors is looking at preventive maintenance in order to reduce the possibility of leaks.

    One suggestion was to require residents to change their water heater every 10 years. If we make this part of our condo association rules, is it enforceable?

    • Hi Marc –

      That is a pretty specific legal question that I can’t definitively answer for you. Were you thinking of just having the Board vote on this rule or getting a homeowner vote to amend the governing documents? If you are just having the Board vote, my gut reaction would be to say that enforceability is questionable. You would probably get a lot of push back from homeowners who may see this as burdensome and intrusive. There is also the administrative issue of keeping track of when everyone last replaced their water heaters, making sure they tell you when they have, and ensuring replacement within each unit. I imagine it could be legally enforceable if you get a homeowner vote to amended the docs to include this rule but I can’t say for sure. I totally understand what you are trying to do but I think it could be pretty complicated. I would definitely talk to an attorney before you try to establish a rule like this.

      Feel free to shoot me an email if you’d like to discuss further.

      Emily

  15. Hi Emily,
    I live in a 16 unit Condominium Association. We are self-managed for building and hired a CAM for the administrative side. A fire sprinkler head leaked in the attic above an owners unit and caused mold and drywall repairs to be needed. The BOD has a work authorization from the contractor and the Board is requiring the unit owner to sign the authorization before finalizing the work order. Is there any reason/s why an owner would have to sign the Association’s work authorization? I would think that the owner has no responsibility here as it is the Association’s responsibility to handle the mold remediation and drywall repairs. Our insurance company has agreed to pay $$ less deductible. Some board members are insisting negligence on the owner’s part – he was away for 6 weeks and should have had someone checking his unit while he was away. Our rules do not state owners must have their units checked while away.

    Many thanks,
    Mags

  16. I own a condo in an 8 pled in Orlando. They (HOA) have failed to maintain the roof (their responsibility per declaration/bylaws) and clean the gutters. They also failed to address a bad drainage system above my unit. Because of this, my unit’s windows have leaked the past 2 years, causing significant damage to my property. The HOA declaration states all owners are responsible for their windows, yet, the causality is such that the HOA’s lack of roof and gutter maintenance has caused this damage to my window and now tenant stress, out of pocket expense, pain and suffering, and health issues due to water intrusion.

    What can I do? I have spend about 1k on this so far, plus countless hours of time and email? How can I get the HOA to repair the roof and maintain the gutters (we have lots of old oaks above the flat roof condo and I am a second floor unit).

    My thought was to file a claim for my window, drywall, and floor damage with my condo content’s insurance. I was thinking they could then investigate and find out that my window leak was a direct result of the HOA failing to properly address roof leaks. Essentially, overflowing and poorly flashed gutters unleash loads of heavy water on the tops of my windows which eventually cause them to fail (as would any window if you dumped a swimming pool on it)

    Thanks

    • Hi Paul –

      I’m so sorry to hear about your situation and I hope we can help. This type of situation is more common than you might think. This is probably better discussed via email; I will reach out shortly.

      Emily

  17. I have a question. If there is a plumbing leak that comes from the bldg but affected or is going to affect a unit in the 1st floor and the condo’s insurance is going to pay for the plumbing but who is responsible for the unit’s damage or repairs? Should it not be the insurance and not be included in an assesment that they are about to inforce. Do the owners have to pay for the unit that will be affected.? Alot of us have water damage in our ceilings and we have not had the association, bldg fix it. We have had many assesments and have alot of problems with everyone not doing the jobs. So we pay assesments and jobs are not finished and we continue giving money. Who can help us stop this vicious circle.?
    Thank you I am sorry I know that was more than one question. We are overwhelmed.

  18. Michele McTernan

    Pipes that are beneath our floor and feed our upstairs unit started leaking after the condo association’s handyman, who is not a licensed plumber, made a repair further down the line. We read the statutes and were not sure we were responsible, but trying to be good neighbors we paid over $500 to repair the leak below our floor. The condo association said they’d repair the drywall. Then, the leak started again in another spot. We again made plans to get it fixed, but the downstairs tenant said she couldn’t be there for over a week, then her property manager didn’t show up on the appointed day when the plumber did show up. The first time, the leak was small so the tenant was catching it in a bucket and there was no emergency. We were not told this leak was bigger until the tenant had an inch of water on her floor. The condo manager asked us to leave the water off, which of course is fine, but she also said she’s going to consult a lawyer, as if we knew there was an urgent problem and just left it to get worse. So 2 questions: Is an owner ever responsible for water pipes that are beneath the floor? And is there a resource we can go to to find a lawyer who specializes in condo owner/association conflicts? What terms should we be looking for? Thanks!

  19. Hi- I live in MA and have a FL condo. My mom lived there for years with no insurance, us for 5+ years with no insurance and now I have a new tenant in there 6 months now. He just arrived since they are snowbirds and he inadvertenly turned on a faucet to an ice maker in the fridge, but the problem is there is no ice maker so he shut the valve off, but apparently not good enough. He called me right up and apologized and said he would fix it since I just spent 100k on a renno. I was calm and trusted he was going to fix it which he has been doing. However, now the tenants below are calling me saying they are going to put a lien on my property if I don’t fix their units too. I have no idea what the cost of the bills are, but I am so frustrated since I am3k miles away and did nothing to cause all of this. Do you have any advice for me? HELP!

    • Deb –

      I’ll reach out to you individually via email to provide you details on how we assist our readers in situation-specific leak issues.

      Emily

  20. Hello, I’ve had slight moisture issues in my condo bedroom since buying in 1998. The windows were leaky and I replaced them shortly after moving in. I am in a top-floor unit and I’m in the process of renovating the room. I’ve advised the condo assoc. of the damage I’ve seen to wallpaper and hung framed pictures, which I recently showed them. Now, upon pulling down all the wallpaper, I find I have severe mold on one exterior wall, some if it clearly caused by roof leaks (which hopefully have already been fixed). Having the condo assoc pay for the damage from roof leak(s) should hopefully not be an issue.

    But there is also much mold around and below the windows on that same wall. The previous owners clearly had leak issues, as evidenced by their amateur repairs to damaged wallpaper near windows. All drywall and insulation will need replacement and the mold will have to be professionally handled. But my concern is whether the condo assoc is also responsible for the damage from water coming in through (or around) the windows. My replacement windows were installed by a company advertised through the condo assoc which offered window replacement service at a reduced ‘bulk’ offer to the condo complex. Also, I have no proof that the windows in place at the time of my condo purchase were in fact the original windows. Can you tell me if the condo assoc is responsible for all the leak/mold repairs in this case? Thank you in advance for your advise.

    • Hi Bob –

      Mold development and drywall damage from a window leak is likely considered a maintenance issue (vs. an insurable casualty) and, therefore, your documents would likely determine who is responsible for repairing the damage. That being said, you have quite a few complicating factors here including the fact that you had the windows replaced, that there are possible roof leaks, etc. In order to provide you clear guidance on who should be responsible for the damage to your unit, Ryan would need to review your documents and discuss the facts in more detail with you. I’ll send you an email with details on the services we offer for situations like this in case you are interested.

      Thanks,
      Emily

  21. I own and live in a condo on the first floor in Orlando Florida. I have just discovered that water is seeping into one of my bedrooms from the outside of my unit. It seems excessive as when I removed the carpet It was quite moist and the padding was very wet and damaged around the circumference and spreading. A bookcase which was the only piece of furniture sitting directly on the floor and against the was has mold on it’s underside. I need to have this problem abated before moving on to new flooring. Is my HOA responsible for this? I so, how can I make them take care of this problem immediately. I have removed everything from the room and the concrete along the edges of the room is still wet.

    • Hi Awilda –

      It’s difficult to say who is responsible without knowing what the cause of the leak is. First thing is first. Let your Association know about the leak and make sure to get a leak detector out to determine the source of the issue so it can be resolved. If you have trouble working with your HOA, let me know and we can assist you.

      Emily

  22. Hello. I live in a 7 floor Condo on the 7th Floor. The HOA has not maintained the roof properly. The massive rains came in September causing the rain to leak into my electric Box and caused a fire. The HOA is stating they are not responsible for the damage they caused due to their negligence. Am I responsible for a HOA irresponsibility?

    Thank you.

    Jan

    • Hi Jan –

      Negligence is complicated. If you can prove the Association was negligent in failing to repair the roof, and show that the failure to repair the roof was the cause of the fire, then you could argue the Association is responsible for all damage. However, the Association likely won’t agree and you may have to take legal action against the Association to get them to pay for the repairs. A legal analysis would be necessary to determine if you have enough to prove negligence on the part of the Association. If you’d like to dig into this further, Ryan (co-blogger/ attorney) could provide assistance.

      Emily

  23. Hi Emily!
    I have a question related to Florida Condominium Law. Recently I discovered a minor water leak in the master closet, on the floor, next to the wall between this walk-in closet and the bathroom shower, which is on the other side of the wall. The leak was enough to wet the closet rug and pad, and showed up about 4″ on the interface wall to the shower. After drying things out thoroughly, I cut out the dry wall and discovered that the slow leak was coming from the hot water line going into the shower valve. Called the plumber who determined that the bushing between the hot water line and the shower valve had a fine crack or pinhole and replaced the valve and associated pieces required to connect the new shower valve to the water lines. This is located inside the wall, between the shower and the master bedroom walk-in closet.
    This area, according to the condo docs, is clearly defined as common elements including the pipes that bring the water to the shower valve. The condo docs also clearly define that any repairs within the common elements are the responsibility of the association. When I called the association and the president of the HOA, they looked at the area and told me that the responsibility for the repairs is on the owner, because the bathroom was modified ~ 20 years ago. The condo originally had a garden tub with a shower, and the tub was removed and replaced with just a enclosed shower, as it is today. I could not find anything in the condo docs that releases the association from repair responsibility, if there was a modification done. They trying to tell me that the condo docs would not have that in them and that it is the Florida Condominium Laws that releases the association from having the responsibility.
    I reviewed the Fl Condo Laws, that the HOA President provided, and the only thing he pointed out is a statement that says “any unit modification must be done according to the Condominium Documents”. I don’t understand how that statement releases the association from the repair responsibility of the common elements, in this case.
    Can you help me determine if this is true? I also read in the condo docs that the association is responsible and should pay for the work done to get to the common elements where the pipes are.
    Thank you in advance for any help or information that you can give me related to this issue. I have already paid the plumber for his work and parts. I also did most of the work to get to the leak myself, and I am in the process of replacing the drywall to close the area up. So, the only issue is who has the responsibility in this case the association or the owner.
    Thanks,
    Louie

    • Louie –

      We’d need to look at your condo docs to say anything for sure. I’m surprised that a repair to the hot water line going into your shower valve would be consider the Association’s responsibility. It possible but typically piping that serves only one unit is the responsibility of the homeowner of that unit (again not always, but usually). Modifications are a reason why responsibility is usually broken out this way. Homeowners will want to refinish their showers and move around the plumbing from time to time.

      Happy to talk about this more offline if you’d like. Feel free to shoot me an email.

      Emily

  24. Jeanette Hendler

    How can I prove original sunroom which now has water coming in from beneath the rug, is the repair responsibility of the Condo. They claim since the room was an add on from the original developer, that it is not their responsibility. What is your opinion? Thanks. Jen

    • Jen,

      Unfortunately this is a very situation-specific question and a review of your condominium’s Declaration of Condominium would be required. If reading the maintenance and repair responsibilities section of your Declaration does not clearly give you the answer you are looking for, then I think an opinion letter from an attorney would be required. If you would like assistance with this, please contact us.

      Thanks,

      Emily

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