Editor’s note: Attorneys at Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC., respond to questions about Florida community association law. The firm represents community associations throughout Florida and focuses on condominium and homeowner association law, real estate law, litigation, estate planning and business law.
Q: We have a question regarding some personal property damage at our Condominium Association. A common plumbing pipe that is located in one of the garages was leaking and apparently damaged an electric table saw located in the garage belonging to the unit owner. The owner advised that the pipe had been leaking since last summer but did not report it to the Association until last month. The owner now wants the Association to pay him for the damaged saw. Is the Association obligated to this?
– B.D., Vero Beach
A: Based on the facts you described in my opinion the answer is – no. The Association is only responsible for the damage to the saw if the Association knew or should have known the common element pipe leak was about to occur or was occurring and did nothing about it. The point being if the Association was not negligent in failing to prevent or repair the leak it is not responsible for the damage. In this case if the owner knew the leak was occurring since last summer and 1) Did not report it timely; and 2) Did not move the saw so it would not be damaged (i.e. take steps to mitigate possible damage) then: 1) The association was not negligent; and 2) Even if the Association had some responsibility the owner is guilty of contributory negligence for failing to move the saw or report the leak timely.
Q: Our community does not allow the use of golf carts. A resident in is in possession of a valid disabled placard for her vehicle and regularly utilizes various mobility devices. She has recently begun to use her golf cart as a personal mobility vehicle within the community and upon their roadways. In many cases, she is not in route to a specific destination but merely “enjoying fresh air” or “looking at the scenery. Does her use of a golf cart as a mobility device qualify under the ADA and protected as such? Would the community’s NO GOLF CART policy supersede the ADA’s authority?
– C.G., Port St. Lucie
A: The applicable law in a residential community is the Fair Housing Act as opposed to the ADA which applies to public places such as shopping malls and restaurants. However, the law as it applies to persons with disabilities is essentially the same. If the person in question has a qualifying disability that substantially impairs a major life activity, then they are entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the law. A reasonable accommodation is basically an exception to the Association’s rules. In this case if she has a disability that requires her to use the golf cart in order to be mobile then the Association would likely have to grant her the accommodation even if the rules of the community prohibit the use of golf carts.
Q: Our Board often meets with some Directors calling in on a conference call. Some owners are requesting that they be allowed to also call in on the conference call to listen to the meeting. Is the Board required to allow owners to call in on the conference call?
– J.M., Stuart
A: No. The law does not give the owners a right to attend the Board meeting on the conference call. The Board could allow this to be done. In my experience Boards that have allowed this have found it to be chaotic and difficult to administer.
Richard D. DeBoest II, Esq., is co-founder and shareholder of the Law firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. Ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: email@example.com. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.