Informal inspection while away is smart
Q: I own a unit in a large condo complex. Along with the other members, I received a strong letter from the condo president requiring us to provide the name of an individual who would inspect our unit weekly for water leaks during our time away. He said the insurance company required it.
His letter said that if we did not provide the information the board would consider the matter one of neglect and would not pay the association's share of any damage. By what authority can an insurance company demand that a unit owner engage someone to inspect a unit while we are away?
A: I am not sure why the insurance company would have such a requirement but in the past few years companies have made many changes to their policies. I'm not aware of this demand. I would guess that your building may have had vacant units that flooded, causing damage to other units. I do not think the president can force you to have your unit inspected but if it were a demand of the insurance company, then they could raise the premium and cost for the association.
I am not sure of the supply lines that feed water to your unit. I know that in certain water systems, if the water is not flushed regularly, it is possible for the chemicals in the system to dissipate and allow bacteria into the water supply. If this is true for your building, your failure to have someone inspect your unit and run the water for a couple of minutes during the inspection could allow bacteria into the water lines.
There is more to the demand than harassment. It is a good situation to have someone inspect the unit while you are away to flush all faucets and toilets and then watch for any water leaks. At the same time, a window or door should be open to allow fresh air into the unit. Inspections while you are away are a valuable tool.
Consult documents regarding walkways
Q: We live in a gated community and pay a maintenance fee. When the community was built, trees were planted near the sidewalks in front of the homes. Now the roots are pushing up the sidewalks. I would like to know who is responsible for the repairs to the common walks.
A: The answer should be in your documents. Normally in a homeowner association, the owner of the property would have the responsibility to correct the problem. However, if you plan to remove the tree, you would need to seek association approval. Also, the county or city may have some responsibility in this area. It is not a standard answer that can be applied to all homes. You need to seek answers from your board of directors, the county or city, and maybe your neighbors.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115. Please include your name and city.