Q. I was elected to the board of my condo association last month. I have yet to take the certification class required by the Condominium Act and I am concerned that there may be few opportunities during the summer months. Am I going to be removed from the board if I wait until next season to take the course? What options do I have? — G.H.
A. You will be temporarily suspended from the board unless you comply with the requirements of Florida Statute section 718.112(2)(d)(4)(b) within 90 days of your election to the board. One option is to provide a written statement to the board secretary certifying that you have read all of the condo documents and written policies, that you agree to uphold those documents and policies and will faithfully exercise your fiduciary duty to the members to the best of your ability. The better option, in our opinion, is to attend a certification class offered by an approved condo law education provider. In this class, you will learn practical points about the most important issues facing board members and come away more prepared to take on your duties. There are opportunities to attend such a class in the summer months. Our firm is offering a class on Tuesday, June 5 at the Doubletree Suites by Hilton Naples, 12200 U.S. 41 N., Naples. You can sign up for the class by contacting our office at 239-331-5100. The class will start at 9 a.m. and will last approximately two (2) hours. The class is free to all board members and will include breakfast. Other opportunities can be found by contacting the Florida Division of Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes at 850-488-1122.
Q. I am a condo association director in Naples and read your columns regularly and try to keep abreast of changes in law. You recently answered a question regarding insurance responsibilities. My understanding was that unit owners are responsible for all things within their unit or within the limited common elements that they privately enjoy, which would include air-conditioning units. Your response seems to indicate that the responsibility for the air-conditioning system lies with the condo association, and not the owner. Did your response intend to limit that responsibility to any common airconditioning system that serves all units? Your clarification would be welcome, particularly as most of our owners including myself are about to depart for the summer. — M.B.
A. This can be an area of confusion, which perhaps explains why, in 2008, the term “air conditioner” was removed from the insurance provisions of The Condominium Act that govern the unit owner’s insurance coverage. To clarify, the air-conditioning equipment that serves the condominium building, including the unit compressors placed on the roof or the ground, is insured, repaired and replaced by the association. If there is a casualty, such as a fire or hurricane, that damages that equipment, the association’s insurance will be responsible. Unit owners are only responsible for maintaining the portions of the equipment that exclusively serve their unit, including the AC compressor, the air handling unit and the pipes servicing only your unit. If your equipment breaks down for lack of maintenance, you will be responsible for the repairs as a unit owner. These guidelines on allocations for repairs can be changed by the members. The Condominium Act allows a majority of the members to “opt out” of the responsibilities imposed by statute by approving changes to the condominium documents. We recommend that you carefully review your condo documents to get comfortable with your maintenance responsibilities. To the extent that you feel that your documents conflict with the statutory guidelines discussed above, you should consult with legal counsel.
Q. My condo association is requiring me to obtain hazard insurance covering the interior of my condo unit. I would have no problem with this policy if the association was enforcing the policy against all owners. The association has specifically targeted units with renters, and I rent my unit to a responsible tenant. The association is threatening to evict my tenant if I do not show proof of insurance. Is this at all legal? — A.C.
A. First, you should check your condominium documents to confirm that the unit owner is required to purchase and maintain the required coverage. Section 718.11 of The Condominium Act specifies what the association must insure and the portions of the condo units that are not covered by the association’s insurance, but the statute does not impose a clear obligation by the unit owner to obtain the hazard insurance required by your association. Therefore, this requirement must be in your condominium documents. If the requirement is there for all unit owners, we do not believe that the association can enforce this requirement only against rented units unless there is specific language authorizing this discriminatory application. Finally, your association can only pursue eviction if you or your tenants are violating a clear rule in the condo documents and the documents specifically authorize eviction as a remedy. At the end of the day, if you want to protect this tenant and your ability to rent going forward, you should probably engage legal counsel to review the documents and respond to the association.
Q. My wife and I have contracted to sell our condo in Bonita Springs. During the inspection of the property, an elevated level of radon gas was detected. To meet the terms of the sales agreement, radon mitigation work must be completed. This involves installing a ventilation system at the cost of $2,000. It seems obvious that the radon is present in the underlying soil and leaking through the concrete floor and into my condo. Clearly I am not the owner of the slab on which my unit rests. The slab is owned and maintained by the condominium association. Isn’t the association responsible to remedy this situation and address the radon gas that is leaking into my unit? — S.G.
A. Yes. Florida law does require your condominium association to maintain, repair and replace the common elements, which would include the concrete slab under your unit. We have never seen condo documents that would include the slab or foundation as part of any living unit. The presence of radon gas inside your unit may indicate a defect in the slab or foundation of the building. If the association fails to properly mitigate the radon gas infiltration, it may be open to liability in the event a resident develops an illness due to radon-gas infiltration. Further, if you lose the sale because of the association’s failure to meet this duty, you may be able to hold the association liable for damages. I would recommend that you send the association a letter that includes your inspection report and putting the association on notice of your potential loss and illness that could result. If the association refuses and you stand to lose the sale, you could pay for the ventilation system that is needed to close the sale and pursue the association for reimbursement at a later point.