Q: Our condominium association has a number of phases. Each phase is supposed to take care of its own road, but the result is a mixture of maintenance levels and attention. There are also a number of parking spaces that are being neglected and each phase is claiming the other is responsible for these spaces. How do we know who is responsible for what?
A: This is an excellent question that needs a lot more information to provide a complete answer. It requires more information because I have seen this accomplished a number of different ways.
First, the condominium concept dictates that land outside of the unit and shared by other owners is a common element. If the road is a common element, the road is owned by all owners in that phase. Like the pool or other common elements, the Board for that phase would have jurisdiction over decisions like maintenance, repairs, resurfacing, speed limits, etc. In this scenario, each segment of land would be different as you traverse from phase to phase.
In other condominiums, the developer retains ownership of the roadway and grants an easement to the condominium phases for ingress and egress over the road. The easement in that situation would dictate who is responsible to maintain the road and who is responsible to contribute to the road maintenance.
A third method is to have a separate roadway or recreational association which acts as a master association for a limited number of amenities. In this situation, the roadway association would own the entire roadway as it goes from phase to phase and the roadway association would have a separate of Board of Directors to make uniform decisions over the perpetual maintenance, repairs, replacement and usage of the roadway. This third method would avoid the hodgepodge of roads within a single community because one group has jurisdiction over the entire roadway irrespective of phase.
The same analysis would apply to the parking spaces. I would recommend you consult a licensed real estate attorney to review the applicable condominium documents, plats and easement agreements to determine who owns the parking spaces and whether there is a contractual obligation for the owner or someone else to maintain those spaces.
Q: Water is leaking into my unit through the windows. There is no mold yet, but it is inevitable. The Association is saying I am responsible. Who is correct?
-L.T., Treasure Coast
A: The first part of the analysis is determining the cause of the leak. The analysis is different depending on whether the window is leaking as a result of hurricane or other casualty loss versus whether the window is leaking due to normal wear and tear.
If the window is leaking as a result of a hurricane or other casualty event, the condominium association is responsible to repair the window because the condominium association ensures the windows from casualty loss. The trim, paint and other portions inside the unit would most likely be your responsibility.
If the window is leaking due to normal wear and tear or other non-casualty loss, it is critical to review your specific condominium documents. Each set of condominium documents is different, and therefore I would recommend you have your documents reviewed by a licensed Florida attorney. In most all of the documents, you will likely be responsible for the interior damage, but either you or the condominium association will be responsible for the window itself depending on the condominium documents. Of course, there are other ways to shift responsibility through negligence or intentional conduct, but the general rule is that the condominium documents will delegate responsibility for non-casualty damage.
John C. Goede 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.