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Roof still leaks after four "repair' jobs

Question: There has been a leak in the condo roof over my apartment since November. Four times I have called, and "repairs" have been made, but the leak is still there.

Can I have someone other than the company hired by the management make repairs and be reimbursed? Would I have to sue them if I did that? _ Florida

Answer: From the association's point of view, it seems to be responding to the need (not denying it) and has a good contract with the firm that has already been paid to correct the problem. Having paid, the association probably does not want to have to pay someone else for the same work.

From your point of view the roof has leaked since last November, and, regardless of the association's problems, the roof still leaks, and your walls and ceiling still get damp when it rains.

It is time the association took the step of retaining an expert to do the job himself or direct the less-than-effective contractor to make effective repairs. By responding to your notices, the management shows that it is concerned, so this is not the time for lawsuits or even threats.

It is the primary function of the association to maintain the common property, and the building's roof is about as common as you can get. The association would probably lose in a legal battle, and everyone would have to pay big bucks, so give it another chance.

Records held hostage

Question: Our condo is having a problem getting our financial records back from a management company we just terminated.

The company contends that we owe them for time due. We say we will not pay until they turn over the records.

Meanwhile we have no budget for 1998, and our new management company cannot do its job. What recourse do we have?

_ Miami

Answer: Florida Administrative Code specifically forbids management to withhold any funds, books or records. "The provisions of this rule apply regardless of any contractual or other dispute between (management) and the community association . . . It shall be considered gross misconduct, as provided by section 468.436(2) of the Florida Statutes, for a licensee or registrant to violate the provisions of this subsection," attorney Steven A. Fein of Plantation says.

Perhaps your condo attorney should have a talk with the head of the management firm, or its lawyer, to refresh his or her memory on this provision of the law.

Budget approval

Question: At our annual meeting there was no vote to accept the 1989 budget. The unit owners never were given the chance to vote to approve the budget. We were just told, "Here it is."

Is this legal? Can our president get away with this? _ Hallandale

Answer: The association documents will tell you if the board of directors alone can approve the budget. In most condos, co-ops and HOAs, the board has this authority.

Condo law does say that a detailed copy of the proposed budget, along with the meeting notice, must be mailed or hand-delivered to each unit owner at least 14 days before the budget meeting. If the new budget exceeds 115 percent of the prior year's assessments, 10 percent of the unit owners have the right to petition the board to call a special unit owner meeting to reconsider and enact a new budget.

The chances are good that your president did not try to get away with anything, and that the unit owner body did not need to approve the budget.

Jack Holeman is a longtime condominium manager, owner and board member. He welcomes your questions. Write to Jack Holeman, Condo Line, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Sorry, he can't take phone calls or provide personal replies by mail, but you can E-mail him at holemanusit.net.

For specific legal advice, contact an association attorney or call the state Bureau of Condominium office in Tallahassee at (800) 226-9101 or (850) 488-0725 or call the Tampa bureau at (800) 226-6028 or (813) 744-6149. Or write to the Bureau of Condominium, Correspondence Unit, 725 S Bronough St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1033.

You can access the Bureau of Condominium web site at (http://www.state.fl.us/dbpr/html/ lsc/copage.html).

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