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Community Living: Condo owners responsible for water damage

Water damage costs fall to condo owners

Q: Each unit of our condominium has a water shut off valve. Does the condominium have responsibility for maintenance of the plumbing or damage that occurs from leaks or repairs beyond the shut off?

A: This is a document requirement, most times found in the declaration. I have found that most condominium documents say that when a utility line serves only one unit, the owner of the unit would be responsible for the repairs and maintenance. If the line serves two or more units, then the condominium would be responsible. From your description and if the documents have this requirement, then the shut off value appears to be that point that divides the responsibility.

As to responsibility for the damage from a water leak, that is a different set of requirements. Damage to personal property including unit damage is normally a unit owner's responsibility regardless of how or where the water entered the unit. That would cover any penetration of water including rain, wind blown rain, an upstairs pipe that breaks, hot water heater's failure, floods from main common area water lines, or any other source of water. In fact it is a legal requirement that each condominium owner obtains and carry property insurance for losses in their unit. Here is how most water damage claims are handled: Each unit owner would be responsible for the repairs to their unit's personal property. There is one exception and that is the condominium may be responsible to replace unfinished drywall. The best source to find the requirements for your condominium is to ask your insurance agent and your attorney.

Fast lien, foreclosure protect association

Q: I am on the board of a HOA. What is the situation where a home owes for three years maintenance and the bank forecloses? What is their obligation to pay the delinquent fees? Would they be obligated to pay the late fees and interest?

A: The HOA will lose most of the delinquent amount owed. FS 720.3085 says that a mortgage holder that forecloses will only be due up to 1 percent of the mortgage or up to 12 months of fees. Condominium statutes have similar limits.

The board should have established a fast collections policy. My suggestion is to have an attorney lien delinquent accounts that have not paid in 60 days. Then follow within 30 to 60 days with the attorney filing foreclosure action if the lien is not paid. The reason that I suggest this strict policy is to help control or reduce uncollected losses. With today's economy, banks are slow to foreclose. In your case, it has taken over three years. If you had foreclosed, say in six months, you may have given title to the bank and then they would have been obligated to pay the current fees. Or, maybe you could have rented the property and used the rent payments to recover delinquent fees and legal costs. You may be able to sell the property (short sale) and then the new owner would start paying the fees. Your next option is to talk to the association's attorney to see if you have other options.


Community Living: Condo owners responsible for water damage 09/15/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 15, 2012 4:30am]
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